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Senegal, 1974 (MIFF 1976)

Director: Ousmane Sèmbene

Xala means impotence in Senegalese. The story of the film, which centres on the impotence of a newly married man, also touches on some major social issues, and symbolises the cultural, economic and political impotence of African nations.

A rich businessman, El Hadji Abdou Kader Beye, has just taken his third wife. But after the grand marriage feast he is faced with the loss of his virility. Nor can he consummate the marriage on the following night. Neglecting his business activities, he seeks a cure for his unexpected and devastating condition. He approaches doctors, faith-healers, witchdoctors. The film follows his comic and increasingly desperate attempts to restore his lost potency, and to work his will upon his wife.

On a different level, the adventures of this member of the privileged class represent the conflicts between the corrupt new business elite and the exploited black majority in the Third World.

'Ousmane Sembene's reputation grows with each film: he is by far the most important African director on the scene, as well as being Senegal's leading novelist.'

Holl., Variety

'An acidly funny, and deadly serious, demonstration that the new business elite as as ‘colonial' as their former masters.'

David Wilson, Sight and Sound

'Another parable for our times, and one which illuminates an unfamiliar world very much from the inside looking angrily out.'

Darek Malcolm, Guardian

See also...


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