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Epic journey to misery

A young woman’s travels to France in hope of a better life takes an unexpected turn in Black Girl, the 1966 Senegalese classic, now streaming on Showmax.

Just named one of the top 100 films of all time in Sight & Sound’s once-a-decade critics’ poll, Ousmane Sembène’s debut 1966 film, Black Girl, is the story of a young Senegalese woman who is employed as a governess for a French family in Dakar and moves with them to the Riviera, where her comfortable duties as a nanny in a wealthy household are replaced by the drudgery and indignities of a maid. 

Black Girl won the Tanit d’Or at Carthage in 1966, among other prizes; was ranked joint fourth on the Tarifa-Tangiers African Film Festival’s list of the 10 best African films of all time; and was hailed by Oscar winner Martin Scorcese (The Irishman) as “an astonishing movie.” 

As Kiva Reardon, the former Toronto International Film Festival lead programmer for contemporary world cinema, who is now VP of film at Pastel, the filmmaking collective co-founded by Oscar winner Barry Jenkins, says: “In only 59 minutes, Ousmane Sembène eviscerates the myth of ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité ’. Blistering in its examination of so-called postcolonialism, the film’s rigour also speaks to Sembène’s brilliant craft.”

Stream Black Girl on Showmax:

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