Ousmane Sembène's 'Black Girl'

Since I'm one of the people that have little to no desire to see The Help and tried (to no avail) to finish Kathryn Stockett's book, I decided to re-visit a 1966 French classic from the New Wave era called La noire de... (Black Girl), written and directed by Senegalese filmmaker and auteur Ousmane Sembène (christened the Father of African film). 

La noire de... explores the tragic story of Diouana, a young woman from Dakar, who moves to Antibes, France, to work for a wealthy French couple she nannied for during their time in Dakar. 

Excited, Diouana looks forward to taking in the sites of the Riviera and living a cosmopolitan life as she cares for her young charges. But, when she arrives to Antibes, she finds that her mercurial mistress has other plans for her. Diouana is treated harshly, much to the indifference of the man of the house. She's given directives like a servant, not allowed to leave the confines of the apartment or wear any of the nicer clothes she brought with her. She's also not paid in a timely fashion. Aware of her exploitation in Antibes, a defiant Diouana becomes withdrawn and increasingly overcome with homesickness and despair. 

Black Girl examines the effects of postcolonialism and racism in Europe and Africa. In a scene, Diouana is asked to cook a traditional Senegalese dish for her employers and their affluent white friends for a dinner party. She notes that she never had to cook for them when she worked as their nanny in Dakar. During the dinner, they brazenly other her and discuss her exoticism. One of the men eagerly jumps out of his seat and demands a kiss because he's "never kissed a Black girl before." 

This film is subtle, and the black-and-white cinematography is austere. But, La noire de... is hauntingly tragic, thoughtful, and relevant as it unpacks the devastating toll anti-Blackness, postcolonialism, and misogynoir have on a young Black woman mentally, emotionally, and physically.