Kino Lorber has acquired U.S. rights to SEMBENE!, the documentary about the life and legacy of film director, producer and writer Ousmane Sembene that is playing the Cannes Classics section of this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The Senegalese film director, producer and writer is widely considered to be the father of African cinema. In Cannes, the docu is being shown before a screening of Sembene’s 1966 film La Noire De, the first sub-Saharan African feature film, which has been restored by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project in conjunction with the documentary.
Co-directed by Jason Silverman and Samba Gadjigo, author of Sembene’s official biography, the pic world premeired this year at Sundance. A fall release is planned for the docu, which tells the true story of the self-taught novelist and filmmaker through the never-before-seen archival footage and verite footage from the man who knew him best, Gadjigo. Sembene was an ordinary man who transformed himself from a manual laborer into a fearless and often polarizing spokesman for the marginalized, becoming a hero to millions. His movies won awards at places like the Venice Film Festival and Cannes, where his last film Moolaade won the Un Certain Regard prize in 2004. He died in 2007.
The deal was negotiated between Kino Lorber CEO Richard Lorber and Andrew Herwitz, President of the Film Sales Company, and Dan Cogan of Impact Partners on behalf of the filmmakers.
“We were powerfully impressed by SEMBENE!” said Lorber. “Much more than a biopic about a great filmmaker, Sembene becomes larger than life on screen as a political and cultural change agent of enduring importance. We are exhilarated to have the opportunity to introduce his work (and the man) to much wider audiences than have up to now followed his films.”