Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. Senegal/France/Burkina Faso/Cameroon/Morocco/Tunisia, 2004. Filmi Doomireew, Direction de la Cinematographie Nationale, Centre Cinématographique Marocain, Cinétéléfilms, Les Films Terre Africaine, Ciné-Sud Promotion, Fonds Sud Cinéma, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Ministère des Affaires étrangères et du Développement International. Screenplay by Ousmane Sembene. Cinematography by Dominique Gentil. Produced by Ousmane Sembene. Music by Boncana Maiga. Production Design by Joseph Kpobly. Film Editing by Abdellatif Raiss. Toronto International Film Festival 2004.
A woman in a Muslim village in Africa takes in four young girls who have escaped their circumcision ceremonies and offers them spiritual protection. Her village doesn’t want her to break with age-old tradition, being reminded of the trouble she caused seven years earlier when she refused to have her own daughter “purified”, making her (according to them) unfit for marriage. The men of the village react to the threat of revolution by taking all the womens’ radios away, which they believe is what is giving their wives these inconvenient, newfangled ideas, inspiring the women to band together in revolt and challenge a so-called religious tradition that sees them being mutilated for the purposes of being more easily controlled by their husbands. This fantastic film by Ousmane Sembene offers a very rich and rewarding film experience: it is a satisfying drama, a politically necessary story and a notable cultural experience. Fatoumata Coulibaly is marvelous as the heroine in question, and Sembene’s direction is rock-solid, never flagging for a second and keeping the audience riveted until the very end.