According to Localcollegeexplorer, the history of Senegalese cinema began in the late fifties and early sixties, in the period in which we witnessed the birth of the seventh art in various countries of sub-Saharan Africa. Even before the independence from the French colonization, obtained in 1960, the Senegal had produced moving images, thanks to some directors, pioneers of both national and continent cinema. Paulin Soumanou Vieyra, film historian, the first African to graduate in 1954 from the IDHEC in Paris, had founded the Groupe africain du cinéma in the French capital and in 1955 had made the short film Afrique sur Seine, considered the debut film in the cinematography of ‘Black Africa, which describes the life of young black immigrants in France. Returning to his homeland in 1958, he was appointed director of the Actualités sénégalaises newsreels and became a prominent documentary maker. Among the numerous short films by Vieyra, Une nation est née (1961) tells with an allegorical gaze the genesis of the State of the Senegal, Lamb (1963) describes some rituals of the Senegalese struggle, while N’Diongane (1965) narrates, between fable and melodrama, the escape of a boy to the sea. Blaise Senghor, Momar Thiam and, above all, Ou-smane Sembène should also be considered to share with Vieyra the need to endow the Senegal with his own filmic memory. If with Grand Magal à Touba (1962) Senghor had focused on the religious rites performed in the Touba mosque, Thiam faced, with Sarzan (1963), a widespread topic in the history of African cinema, the return to his own land after a lived experience in the West. But it was Sembène, already an established writer, to bring Senegalese cinema to international visibility, first with the debut short film Borom sarret, also known as Le charretier (1963; Il carrettiere), then with the feature film La noire de… (1966). Sembène, with his works on the part of the people and denouncing the responsibilities of colonialism, the corruption of the African bourgeoisie, the abuses of religious power, has crossed the entire history of Senegalese cinema becoming the director with the most continuous filmography. The great freedom of expression and intense formal research, already present in these works, would also characterize the Senegalese cinema of the following decades, making it one of the most structured in the entire continent (newsreels, Société nationale du cinéma). They were years full of creativity, well testified by the work of other prominent filmmakers such as Djibril Diop-Mambéty, Mahama Johnson Traoré, Ababacar Samb-Makharam, Safi Faye who, with their colleagues, shared a visionary approach in dealing with issues of social life, tradition, history. The work of D. Diop-Mambéty, which began in 1968 with the medium-length film Contras city and continued with a few indispensable texts (including Touki bouki, 1973, a milestone in contemporary cinema, and Hyènes, 1992), is the most experimental and avant-garde, in the sign of irreverent humor. MJ Traoré, whose filmography contains works for both cinema and television (the satirical series Fann ocean, 1992), is responsible for fundamental works such as Diankha-Bi, known as La jeune fille (1969), a portrait of three teenage girls ; Reou-Takh known as La ville en dur (1972), banned in Senegal, the journey of an African American on the trail of his past in the neighborhoods of Dakar, with the evident contrasts between tradition, poverty, westernization, and on the island of Gorée; Njangaan, known as N’Diangane (1974), harsh denunciation of religious power and the Koranic schools; Garga M’Bossé, known as Cactus (1974), describes the disorientation of a couple who left the countryside for the city. Author of a short film and only two feature films, A. Samb-Makharam has become one of the best African filmmakers with his militant, extremely energetic and physical way of filming. Et la neige n’était plus (1965) is the story of the difficult reintegration of a young man who returned from France; in Kodou (1971) a girl is subjected to excruciating therapies and rituals for having rebelled against the lip tattoo ceremony; in Jom, ou la mémoire d’un peuple (1981) a storyteller recalls the memory of his people by retracing various historical moments, from colonialism to the emancipation of women. From 1972 to 1976 Samb-Makharam was general secretary of the Fédération panafricaine des cinéastes (FEPACI), then president of the Cinéastes sénégalais associés. Safi Faye, collaborator of Jean Rouch, has given the female figure a prominent place. Her two most important works are Kaddu beykat, known as Lettre paysanne (1975), on the hard work of peasants, the first feature film made by a black African director, and Mossane (1996), a portrait of a girl in the form of a fairy tale. between loneliness and rebellion.
Cheikh Tidiane Aw, after focusing on the healing ceremony from evil spirits in N’Doep, known as Réalités (1969), signed a gangster-film with Le bracelet de bronze (1974). Thierno Faty Sow, author of ethnographic films, then shot L’option in 1974, also known as Mon beau pays, in which a Senegalese soldier, enlisted in the French army, after the independence of his country decides to remain in France. Sow will return to the postwar topic by creating Camp de Thiaroye (1988; Campo Thiaroye) together with Sembène. In Baks, known as Chanvre indien (1974), M. Thiam follows, between moralistic denunciation and pleasure of vision, the events of a group of young drug dealers who spend their days on the beach smoking marijuana. With lightness and a sense of detail, Ben Diogaye Beye recounts the sentimental conquests of an African in Paris in Les princes noirs de Saint-Germain-des-Près (1975). The economic speculations of a shepherd, while the circumcision ceremony is being prepared inside a village, are at the center of Tiyabu biru, known as La circumoncision (1978), by Moussa Yoro Bathily who with Petits blancs au manioc ou à la sauce gombo (1989), describes the vicissitudes of a group of Europeans at work in an agricultural area of Senegal. However, state interventions in favor of cinema did not manage to be lasting: in 1984 the Société Nationale de Production Cinématographique (SNPC) was established, which would cease its activity a few years later, in 1990. However, in the 1980s, Senegalese cinema continued its path. Joseph Gaye Ramaka, director-anthropologist, who from the beginning was among the most authoritative voices of Senegalese cinema, was making his debut. In his documentaries he approached ancestral cultures with extraordinary intensity, the propitiatory rite of water in the short film Baw naan, known as Rites de pluies (1985), and in the feature film Nitt… ndoxx, known as Les faiseurs de pluie (1989)). Using fiction, he then narrated a story of mystery and superstition in Ainsi soit-il, an episode of the television series Africa dreaming (1997), working on the chromatic density of elements such as darkness and fire; in Karmen Geï (2001), for which he received repeated threats from Islamic fundamentalists, he conveyed the myth of Carmen by P. Mérimée and G.
In the 1990s, new directors emerged: Moussa Touré, author of Toubab Bi (1991), a story of love and cultural eradication experienced by an African in France, and TGV (1998), a social comedy set on a coach traveling from Dakar in Conakry. Moussa Sene Absa, with fictional films such as Ken bugul, known as La république des enfants (1990), where two adolescents faced with the difficulties of living found a country without adults; Tableau Ferraille (1996), a comedy set in the homonymous district of Dakar; and Madame Brouette (2002), dreams of a street vendor who wants to open a restaurant; medium-length films (such as Yalla Yaana, 1994, about the life of a collective taxi driver) and many documentaries, including Blues pour une diva (1999), about the actress and singer Aminata Fall. Samba Félix N’Diaye, documentary filmmaker who made, with the residents of a village preserved from modernity, Ngor, esprit des lieux (1994) and Rwanda pour mémoire (2003), about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Mansour Sora Wade, on his first feature film with Ndeysaan (2001, The Price of Forgiveness), a fable about the sensual and tragic love of two friends for the same girl, entrusted to mystery, to dance, to artisan animation inserts.