Skip to content




This program of documentary shorts is both a stirring introduction to the Beninese/Senegalese filmmaker considered the first sub-Saharan African film director and a rich overview of the period of African independence and nation-building. Vieyra’s 1955 essay film Africa on the Seine (co-directed with Mamadou Sarr) begins on the banks of the Niger but moves quickly to Paris, “the capital of Black Africa.” Combining street photography with a poetic voiceover, Vieyra achieves a remarkable portrait of the African diaspora and a forward-looking paean to racial diversity. As the title indicates, the 1961 short A Nation Was Born does nothing less than describe the history and birth of the modern African nation of Senegal. With tremendous economy of means, Vieyra depicts an idyllic pre-colonial land in West Africa, the traumatism of colonialism, and the optimism of the newly independent country. A documentary about the Senegalese national sport of wrestling, Lamb eloquently demonstrates that wrestling here is more than a sport, but a spectacle, a game, and a way of life. Lamb was the first film from Sub-Saharan Africa selected at the Cannes Film Festival, in 1964. L’Envers du décor (1980) is an extraordinary behind-the-scenes record of the shooting of the 1976 feature film Ceddo by Senegalese master Ousmane Sembène, and a crucial lesson in filmmaking and
the perspective of the African artist.