4K Digital Restoration


Thierno Leye, Myriam Niang, Seune Samb, Fatim Diagne,

“Ousmane Sembène has created one of the most sophisticated works of the new African cinema—at once comic satire and a deadly accurate polemic against the black bourgeoisie of Dakar” (Albert Johnson). Heavily censored in Senegal, Xala strips bare the myth of African independence and exposes ways in which ruling-class Senegalese have appropriated colonial bureaucracy for their own benefit. El Hadji (Thierno Leye) is an aging, affluent businessman about to marry his third wife. But on his wedding night, he is struck with the curse of xala (impotence). His physical affliction soon affects all aspects of his life. Xala becomes a metaphor for what’s wrong with contemporary Senegalese culture and what paralyzes much of modern Africa. With its satirical mix of Senegalese superstitions and customs with Western symbolism and values, Xala is reminiscent of the Surrealism of Luis Buñuel.

Susan Oxtoby
  • Ousmane Sembène
Based On
  • Sembène’s novel Xala

  • Georges Caristan
  • Orlando L. López
  • Seydina D. Saye
  • Farba Seck
  • French
  • Wolof
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • Color
  • DCP
  • 123 mins
  • Janus Films

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