France, Guadeloupe
Twenty-Five Black African Filmmakers: A Critical Study, with Filmography and Bio-Bibliography
by Françoise Pfaff
Copyright (©) 1988 by Françoise Pfaff. All rights reserved
Reproduced by permission of ABC-CLIO, LLC, Santa Barbara CA


Although she is not an African by birth, because of her ethnic origins, her work, and her dedication to the cause of Africa, Sarah Maldoror is commonly given a privilege place in comprehensive analysis of Black African cinema.

When asked to define herself, Maldoror responded as follows:

I feel at home wherever I am. I am from everywhere and from nowhere. My ancestors were slaves. In my case it may sometimes be difficult to define myself. The West Indians blame me for not having lived in the West Indies, the Africans say I was not born in Africa and the French blame me for not being like them. (Black Art, vol. 5, no. 2, 1982, p. 31).

Of African descent, Sarah Maldoror (Her real name is Sarah Ducados; she chose the name Maldoror after reading Les Chants de Maldoror by the nineteenth-century French writer Count de Lautréamont). After high school, Maldoror envisioned becoming a stage actress and went to Paris to study drama at the Centre d’Art Dramatique de la Rue Blanche. In subsequent years she interpreted minor roles in various plays, but soon became aware of the limited repertoire available to Black actors on the French stage. In 1956, discontent  with playing subservient roles, she and three friends, the Haitian singer Toto Bissainthe, Timité Bassori, and Ababacar Samb, decided to create their own troupe, the Compagnie d’Art Dramatique des Griots. Unfortunately for lack of sustained financial backing, these efforts were short-lived. However, the troupe succeeded in interpreting such plays as No Exit by the French writer Jean-Paul Sartre and La Tragédie du Roi Christophe by the Martiniquan playwright and poet Aimé Césaire. Says Maldoror: “I first learned acting, and then with The Griots I became involved in stage managing. I believe this experience was most fruitful because one must know about acting and theater rules in order to make films” (Maldoror to author, Washington, DC, 1 April 1981).

In the 1950s, Sarah Maldoror abandoned the legitimate stage to became actively involved in the struggle for African liberation. At that time, many African militants were exiled in Paris. Among them was the Angolan writer Mario de Andrade, one of the leaders of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), whose life Maldoror shared for a number of years. It is with him that she subsequently went to Guinea-Conakry, where she came to realize that in Africa cinema was the most appropriate medium that could be used to raise the political awareness of the masses of people, many of whom were and still are illiterate. At that point Sarah Maldoror set out to become a filmmaker. Awarded a scholarship by the Soviet Union, she went to Moscow to study filmmaking in 1961 and 1962.  There, together with Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene, she studied at the Gorki Studio under Sergei Gerassimov and Mark Donskoy, who introduced her to the techniques and ideology of Soviet cinema. Both Maldoror and Sembene worked as assistants won Donskoy’s film Hello Children (1962).

In 1963 Sarah Maldoror stayed in Morocco for a short time and then went to reside for some time in Algeria, where she became Gillo Pontecorvo’s assistant during the filming of The Battle of Algiers.  This 1966 film, which illustrates the bloody confrontations between the Algerian freedom fighters and French paratroopers in 1957 and 1958, now stands as a classic of militant cinema. Maldoror also worked for the Algerian filmmaker Ahmed Lallem while he was shooting Elles, a documentary on Algerian school girls. It was also in Algeria that she made her first motion picture, Monangambee, in 1970. The film’s script (written by Sarah Maldoror in collaboration with Serge Michel) is based on a short story by the white Angolan writer and political activist Luandino Vieira, who had been sentenced by the Portuguese colonial regime to serve a fourteen-year term at the camp of Tarrafal in Cape Verde. Maldoror remarks: “I don’t mind whether the writer is black or white…if I am satisfied with the story. The cinema has no borders. It is the only art which has no boundaries” (Bulletin, 10 April 1981, p. 14).

Except for the prison guard, played by the Algerian actor Mahamd Zinet, Monangambee is interpreted by nonprofesisonal actors. It was produced with financial support ($7,000) and technical help from the Algerian governement. Monangambee was shot in three weeks near Algiers. When released, the film received a prize at the Dinar Film Festival (France), won the International Critics’ Prize at the Carthage Film Festival (Tunisia), and was selected to be presented at the third Pan-African Film Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) in 1972.

After Monangambee, in 1971, Maldoror went to film Des Fusils pour Banta (Guns for Banta) among Amilcar Cabral’s freedom fighters in the bush of Guinea-Bissau. Financed by the Algerian government and produced by liberation movements of Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau, Des Fusils pour Banta was made with a crew of Algerian technicians and a team of underground resistants who play their own role in the film. Maldoror recalls:

For three months we experienced life on a military post (ten wooden compounds hidden in the bush) by following the fighters in all of their movements. Each time an enemy plane spotted the village we were bombed for hours. Everybody sought shelter in trenches. …Then we had to leave, move the whole village, take women and children away and build a school and hospital 30 kms from there…they [the freedom fighters] did not consider acting a game. They probably did not understand why it was necessary to shoot ten times the same scene, but they were well aware that the goal of the film was to provide world exposure to their cause. All the action sequences, such as military attacks, were faithfully filmed according to their instructions. I had to bring constant changes to the script. I realized that…war had until then been a very abstract concept for me. There I “felt” things: the insecurity, the plight of the wounded who would die for lack of medicine, the children who would eat but once a day. (Jeune Afrique) 6 November 1971, pp. 62-63).

Yet, subsequently and for some unclear reasons (Maldoror cites a verbal confrontation she had with a high-ranking Algerian officer), Des Fusils pour Banta, intended as a 105-minutes film, never went beyond the editing stage.

Maldoror spent the following year in France, where she made three commissioned films, namely Saint-Denis-sur-Avenir (The Future of Saint-Denis), La Commune Louise Michel et nous (The Commune, Louise Michel and Us), and Et les chiens se taisaient (And the Dogs Fell Silent). Also in 1971, Sarah Maldoror received $45,000 from the French Centre National du Cinema and  subsidy from the French Ministry of Cooperation, which helped her to finance Sambizanga, produced by Isabelle Films; its total cost approached $100,000. The film’s screenplay was adapted by Mario de Andrade, Maurice Pons, and Sarah Maldoror from A Vida Verdadeira de Domingos Xavier (The True Life of Domingos Xavier), a novel published in 1961 by Luandino Vieira. Maldoror stresses:

I was faithful to the novel. When he [Vieira] had a white engineer who helped the blacks, or a mulatto who was a torturer, I respected the story. Naturally in making a film you have a political option. I make a film according to my political ideas. I made the choice when I picked the novel to film. (Bulletin, 10 April 1981), p. 14).

Sambizanga was shot in the People’s Republic of Congo by a crew of mostly French technicians (including cameraman Claude Agostini), and interpreted by a cast of performers recruited mainly from PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and the Cape Verde Islands) and MPLA militants who according to their ethnic origin, express themselves in such languages as Portuguese and the African vernaculars Lingala and Lari. Maldoror explains:

We shot the film in seven weeks in the outskirts of Brazzaville….It took ten weeks to edit the film in Paris. The actors are non-professional. The male protagonist is a tractor operator. I found him by chance on a construction site. The heroine, Elisa de Andrade, is an economist. She lives in Algiers and had already played a part in Monangambee. (Ecrans 73, May 1973, p. 71).

Sambizanga received the Grand Prize (“Tanit d’Or”) at the Carthage Film Festival in 1972 and the International Catholic Film Office Award at FESPACO in 1973. In the past fifteen years, Sambizanga as been shown at a number of festivals as the African Woman Series (New York, 1979), the Black Women Film Festival (Washington, D.C., 1980), and the First Baltimore Women’s Film and Video Festival (University of Maryland, 1983).
In spite of the recognition she gained from Sambizanga, Sarah Maldoror had to wait until 1976 to make a short documentary entitled La Basilique de Saint-Denis (The Saint-Denis Basilica). In 1977 she filmed Un Homme, une terre: Aimé Cesaire (A Man, a Land: Aimé Cesaire). This work, focusing on her favorite poet, Aimé Cesaire, was produced and broadcast by French television. Next, from 1977 to 1979, Maldoror shot a sries of shorts for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, among them Paris, le cimetière du Père Lachaise (Paris, the Père Lachaise Cemetery), Un Masque à Paris; Louis Aragon (A Mask in Paris: Louis Aragon), and Miro. Far from looking down upon what some might consider minor undertakings, Maldoror insists that such concise films allow her both to sharpen her skills and earn a living. Also in 1970, she shot two documentaries for the government of Cape Verde: Fogo, l’île de feu (Fogo, Island of Fire) and Un Carnaval dans le Sahel (A Carnival in the Sahel).

In 1981 Sarah Maldoror made Un Dessert pour Constance (A Dessert for Constance), a $160,000 medium-length film, based on Maurice Pons’ adaptation of a short story by French writer Daniel Boulanger and co-produced by Antenne 2 (a French television station) and Top Films, a French motion picture company. The cast included several noted African and French actors as Sidiki Bakaba, Cheik Doukouré, Jean Bouse, and Bernard Haller. Maldoror’s latest fiction works are the $500,000 L’Hôpital de Léningrad (The Léningrad Hospital, 1982) and the $700,000 Le Passager du Tassili (The Tassili Passenger, 1986), both of which were also produced by Antenne 2. L’Hôpital de Léningrad whose aging protagonist is played by veteran stage and screen actor Roger Blin, was drawn from The Tropic and the North, a short story written in 1932 by Russian-born author Victor Serge. Le Passager du Tassili, whose main role is played by the Algerian actor Lounès Tazaïrt, is based on the novel Les A.N.I. du Tassili (The Unidentified Arab Passengers of the Tassili Liner) by Aklin Tadjer, a young French writer of Algerian descent. Also in 1986, Maldoror engaged in the making of several short motion pictures produced by Fr3, a French television station. One of them, Portrait de Madame Diop, focuses on Christiane Diop, who heads Présence Africaine a publishing company which is primarily concerned with works by writers from Africa and the Black Diaspora.

Sarah Maldoror has several film projects in store. She would like to adapt Césaire’s La Tragedie du Roi Christophe for film which would not only focus on past historical events (King Christophe’s coming to power in nineteenth-century Haiti), but also incorporate them into a contemporary setting to examine why some African nations are still subjected to various forms of neocolonialism after having obtained their independence almost three decades ago. Maldoror’s other plans include a film about Angela Davis and another focusing on Harlem.

Sarah Maldoror enjoys Soviet and Japanese cinema. In addition to Donsky, Eisenstein, and Kurosawa, she admires such French filmmakers as Alain Resnais, Jean-Luc Godard, Chris Marker, and Agnès Varda. Regarding Black African cinema, her preferences go to Ousmane Sembene, Med Hondo, Djibril Diop Mambety, Timité Bassori, and Mustapha Alassane. Like most of them, she is primarily interested in the sociopolitical and cultural aspects of film. She states:

I made films because I am deeply interested in both cinema and African history. I believe that we, as blacks, have a moral responsibility to present a fair account of African history. If we want to eradicate racism, we will have to study our culture very thoroughly in order to present it to the world….If only Westerners make films about Africa, people will only see Africa through their eyes…When Americans made films about Africa,  they made westerns transposed in Africa! These films were remarkably well done, but their African characters were, more often than not, stupid and ignorant….In my films, I mainly strive to present issues of importance to Africa or the Black Diaspora from a Black perspective. This does not mean that only Blacks can make those kinds of films or that I should only be limited to Black themes. Culture Is an exchange and a mixing of ideas. Whenever culture is limited it stagnates. I strongly believe that tomorrow’s culture will be largely based on images and this is why filmmakers have such an important role to play in their society. (Black Art, vol. 5, n. 2, 1982, pp. 31-32).

Maldoror strongly believes that Black African films should be of high technical quality so as to successfully compete on an international scale. Although she does not altogether reject purely didactic works, Maldoror feels that African motion pictures should be devised so as to be universally accessible without, however, losing their unique African components. In this respect, she considers feature films more effective than documentaries. Maldoror emphasizes: “I think one has better chances to interest people by telling them a story” (Ecrans 73), May 1973, p. 71).

Sarah Maldoror believes that it is still too early to delineate a stylistic orientation within Black African Cinema. She explains:

I think people are searching for a film language that would reflect African cultures, but this takes time. Black African cinema is merely 25 years old, which is still very young as compared to others. The French New Wave, for instance, came out of a film tradition; these people had a film library from which to study and they benefited from a lot of things filmmakers have never had in Africa. (Maldoror to author, Paris, Summer 1985).

She also insists that the growth of Black African cinema depends to a very large extent on the implementation of new cultural policies at the national level that would solve the many problems which are presently impeding the production and distribution of African films.

Except when she makes films in special circumstances (as happened in Guinea-Bissau), Maldoror generally uses a very precise method of work. As a rule she spends a great deal of time finding suitable locations before the actual shooting of the film. A careful planner, she also carries out multiple rehearsals with her actors, but allows for script changes whenever deemed necessary. Unlike most African filmmakers, Sarah Maldoror infrequently participates in scriptwriting. She stresses: “I am not a writer, therefore, I adapt short stories or novels. I need for other people to provide me with stories on which to base my films. I can translate everything into pictures, but please do not ask me to describe a chair in writing” (Black Art, vol. 5, n. 2, 1982, p. 32).

Sarah Maldoror appears as a politically committed filmmaker who sides with the oppressed and struggles against all forms of injustice. Maldoror says that she is not actively involved in any women’s movement, though she strongly supports those who are. Furthermore, the filmmaker does not feel that her career has been hampered by the fact that she is a woman, but she has at times found it difficult to combine work and family life. The mother of two daughters, Maldoror maintains her residence and works in Paris. She is a frequent speaker at film related symposia. It was on the occasion of such an event, as she was presenting her films at a number of universities and cultural institutions through out the United States, that Ethiopian director Haile Gerima (referring to Sambizanga) hailed Maldoror as “one of the forerunners of African film” (Howard University, Washington, D.C., 1 April 1981).


Monangambee (whose title means “porter” and by extension any lower-class Black in Angola), shot in the late 1960s, depicts Portuguese ignorance of Angolan culture and the cruel treatment and imprisonment of people actively opposed to colonialism. The film narrates the story of an African imprisoned for political reasons. His wife is allowed to visit him in jail. As they part, she promises to have a “fato completo” (which denotes a “suit” in Portuguese) sent to him. A guard reports this conversation to prison officials, who proceed to interrogate the prisoner as to why he would need a suit. Has he been told he would soon appear in court? As the prisoner refuses to divulge any further information, he is severely beaten and whipped by his jailers. The last sequence of the motion picture shows the prisoner back in his cell. After having regained his consciousness he tells another inmate: “These fools will never understand anything: for us a ‘fato completo’ is a local fish dish and not a suit.”

Sarah Maldoror’s second film, Des Fusils pour Banta, depicts the militancy of a woman from Guinea-Bissau who, after having spearheaded armed resistance against Portuguese rule, dies before the struggle of national liberation actually begins.

Maldoror’s best-known work, Sambizanga (named after a Black working-class suburb of Luanda, Angola’s capital), is based on events that took place in 1961, fourteen years prior to Angola’s independence. The motion picture starts shortly before Domingos, an Angolan construction worker belonging to an anticolonial underground network, is arrested and jailed by the Portuguese authorities. He will eventually be tortured to death for persistently refusing to disclose the name of other members of his resistance movement. Parallel to Domingos’ tragic fate, the film shows the plight and determination of his wife, Maria, who sets out on foot in search of her husband: arriving at the Luanda prison, she is informed of his death. Sambizanga ends as Black militants discuss the forthcoming assault on the Luanda prison, the long-hated symbol of Portuguese oppression.

Instead of depicting an open rebellion, Sambizanga centers on events that led to consciousness awakening and armed uprising.  As such, the film radiates an intimate tone and a meditative lyricism which one is not generally accustomed to seeing in comparable films. Maldoror states:

Some people have blamed me for not having made a film with tanks and guns. But Sambizanga is by no means a war film as, for instance, American cinema would regard it. The film intends to describe a real story which occurred in the 1960s at the beginning of anti-colonial resistance in Angola. I show how people try to organize a resistance movement. People have blamed me…for selecting actors who, they say, are too beautiful: Well, there are indeed Black people who are beautiful and that’s all…In terms of the rhythm of the film, I tried to recreate the slow pace which characterizes African life. Nothing is invented. Everything I show in the film springs from my own perception of such a reality. (Ecran 73, May 1973, p. 71).

Maldoror’s next feature film, Un Dessert pour Constance, intends to illustrate in a somewhat light-hearted manner the friendship and solidarity among African migrant workers in Paris:

Un dessert pour Constance centers around two street sweepers and occasional garbage collectors who memorize the recipes of a French cookbook they found in some trash. They do so in order to win the cash prize of a TV game show, and this prize will entitle one of their [terminally ill] friends to go back to Africa to die in his ancestors’ land…Her parable ends with a sad comment reflected in one of the protagonists’ final words: “The main thing is never to come to work in loneliness and contempt.” (Black Art, vol. 5, n 2, 1982, p. 31).

Uncharacteristically, L’Hôpital de Léningrad, shot in Paris in an abandoned match factory, does not focus on a topic related to either Africa or the Black Diaspora. It denounces the arbitrary political arrests and “psychiatric” confinements perpetrated in the Soviet Union under Stalin’s government. With Le Passager du Tassili, nevertheless, the cineaste returns to prior concerns and mirrors the sociocultural alienation suffered by French people of Algerian descent.

Finally Maldoror’s documentaries cover a variety of subject matters. Et les chiens se taisaient is a  cinematographic rendition of a poem by Césaire amid the Africa masks of a Parisian museum. Saint-Denis-sur-Avenir describes the problems faced by works in one of Paris’s working-class suburbs. La Commune, Louise Michel et nous stresses the participation of women in the 1870 Paris uprisings. La Basilique de Saint-Denis recounts the history of the medieval abbey. Un Homme, une terre, Aimé Césaire presents Césaire in his home environment on the occasion of the official visit of President Leopold Senghor to Martinique. Paris, le cimetière du Père Lachaise features various facets of Paris’ best known historical graveyard. Un Masque à Paris; Louis Aragon is dedicated to one of France’s major twentieth-century writers. Miro highlights the works of Spain’s internationally known abstract painter. Fogo, l’île de feu reflects the geographic aridity of one of Cape Verde’s volcanic islands, as well as its ethnic and cultural diversity and the industriousness of its people. Un Carnaval dans le Sahel  touches a number of themes already found in Fogo, l’île de feu, but here popular celebration is interspersed with images of a PAIGC political rally.


Due to scarce screenings, Monangambee has been reviewed by a limited number of film critics. Guy Hennebelle finds if poorly photographed and says it reflects an “unconvincing stylistic practice” (L’Afrique Littéraire et Artistique, March 1972, p. 88), but Nadja Kasji (quoted by Sylvia Harvey) favors the work’s impressionistic mood. She  comments:

Maldoror does not only allow the direct development of the story to unfold; she does not simply describe the game the colonial henchman plays with his victim. She recreates the atmosphere under which the suffering takes place and the estrangement people feel in a colonial society. (Women and Film, vol. 1, n. 5-6, 1974, p. 74).

Maldoror’s best-known film is unquestionably Sambizanga. As can be expected, it has drawn widespread critical attention. Michale Kerbel notes:

Sambizanga, an affecting first feature by Sarah Maldoror…is often awkward (as in the cross-cutting between Maria’s struggle and Domingos’s imprisonment) but Maldoror does have a remarkable talent for expressive close-ups. She creates a feeling of intimacy with the characters, and in the scenes within the couple’s tiny home and Domingos’s prison, a palpable claustrophobia. The bewilderment, and increasing militancy of the people are conveyed through an accumulation of memorable close-up portraits: one remembers especially Domingos’s fellow prisoners chanting over his body; the Angolans looking on in confusion and in unexpressed resentment, as Maria screams in agony; the group of revolutionaries reacting to the news of Domingos’s death—deeply sorrowful but also exultant in his spiritual triumph and martyrdom…

Therein is expressed the film’s central revolutionary theme. Progress is no longer possible for individuals: only by collective action can the people succeed. (Village Voice, 6 December 1973, p. 85).

In spite of a style which, he says, wavers from lyricism to political didactism, Guy Hennebelle is struck by Sambizanga’s smooth editing qualities and overall aesthetic value. He concludes: “Sambizanga is made in a rather conventional manner, but it reveals a talented filmmaker whose work is a significant contribution to Black African cinema” (Ecrans 73, May 1973, p. 70). Alain Labrousse praises Maldoror for having underscored the silent heroism of an unknown militant as well as the workings of an underground network, rather than more overt episodes of Angola’s struggle for independence. He also feels that Sambizanga’s tone and rhythm are perfectly suited to its theme (Le Monde Diplomatique, April 1973, p. 21). Paulin Soumanou Vieyra is impressed by the film’s technical qualities but much less so by its ending (an outdoor ball during which militants honor Domingos’s memory), which he considers lengthy and weak (Le Cinéma africain, 1975, p. 42). For Linda Gross:

Sambizanga is an excellent and impassioned film about solitude and political solidarity…Sarah Maldoror…possesses stunning pictorial techniques and the ability to evoke mood and atmosphere. She imparts a strong sense of community and also conveys the gradual changes that take place in people forced by circumstances to take courageous stands. (Los Angeles Times, 23 September 1977, p. 14).

Mosk is pleased with Sambizanga's poignant plot and "technical flair" (Variety, 25 April 1973, p. 18), and Clyde Taylor shows appreciation for Maldoror's "fine directorial work" and the "excellent performances" of her nonprofessional actors (The Black Collegian, May-June 1979, p. 95). However, for Claude-Michel Cluny, Sambizanga lacks political depth for, in his opinion, it is anecdotic, complacent, and disappointing (Cinema 73, n. 178-179, 1973, p. 308). While she favors the film's visual metaphors, Sylvia Harvey also deplores its political superficiality. According to her:

These images of closeness, collective responsibility and sharing, rather than any speeches...form the semantic substance of the film. Just as the images of the water foaming and crashing on the rocks at the beginning of the film are more than an indication of physical geography, but part of the spiritual geography of resistance and struggle....What the film does not show are the levels of colonial oppression; it shows the surface manifestations of brutality but not the causes of that brutality which lie in the economic relationship between Portugal and its colonies. Neither does the film show how the developing consciousness of the woman is translated into political action. What is important, however, is that it shows the beginnings of that change in consciousness. (Women and Film, vol. 1, n. 5-6, 1974, p. 71).

More recently, Mario Relich underlined the timelessness of Maldoror's feature by saying:

Originally intended to publicize the anti-colonial struggle in Angola, Sambizanga has lost none of its impact, though originally released ten years ago. Its aesthetic qualities, however, are now more sharply evident, so that Maldoror's political views and her vision of life merge indissolubly....Maldoror's film is permeated with a strong sense of life quite opposed to anything doctrinaire. (West Africa, 21 June 1982, p. 1850).

Un Dessert pour Constance, whose style and tone are drastically different from those found in Maldoror's previous works, generated mixed reviews on the part of film critics. In an article entitled “Maldoror Turns Her Coat," Maryse Condé questions the satirical nature of the film and its overall impact which, she implies, might very well reinforce certain preexisting racial biases regarding Blacks (Afrique, May 1981, p. 47). Helene also finds Un Dessert pour Constance

disappointing and calls it a "secular Christmas tale" whose African protagonists are reminiscent of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom (Libération, 12 February 1981, p. 21). Philippe Nourry finds Maldoror's work uneven both in style and content (Le Figaro, 16 February 1981, p. 26). For Catherine Humblot, Un Dessert pour Constance is "a light-hearted comedy which depicts, between two peals of laughter, the somewhat incredible tribulations of two migrant workers in Paris," as well as a "burlesque and poetic tale" which makes some pertinent and even fierce comments concerning race relations within French society. Yet the critic is also disturbed by the film's ambiguous humor (Le Monde, 8 February 1981, p. 9).

Yet, other film reviewers, like Christian Bosséno (Cinémaction, Supplement to Tumulte, n. 7, 1982, p. 69), approve of Maldoror's use of comedy in treating serious subject matter. Similarly, Jérôme Garcin considers Un Dessert pour Constance "a little masterpiece of humor and poetry" (Les Nouvelles Littéraires, 12 February 1981, p. 41), and Jean Barenat mentions that its comic plot should not be viewed as a farce because it releases "a very healthy draft of fresh air" which underlines "the shameful and malign facets of our society." He also favors the performance of its two main African actors (L' Humanité, 13 February

1981, p. 2). Anne Calvet writes:

This film ... is not a thesis on the working conditions of migrant laborers. With inimitable good fortune and gracefulness, Sarah Maldoror has managed to avoid this pitfall as well as ponderous rhetoric and moralizing laments. Her weapons are the humor, derision, freshness and spontaneity with which she handles caricature, and these owe more to African storytelling than socioeconomic discourses. (Humanité Dimanche, 8 February

1981, radio/television insert).

No critical evaluations are available on Maldoror's documentaries. At the time of this writing, only scarce reviews of Le Passage du Tasili (reflecting mixed reaction) are available, precluding assessment of the critical evaluation of this work.


Monangambee, 35 mm, black and white, 20 min., 1970.

Des Fusils pour Banta (Guns for Banta), 35 mm, black and white, 105 min., 1971.

Saint-Denis-sur-Avenir (The Future of Saint Denis), color, 13 min., 1971.

La Commune, Louise Michel et nous (The Commune, Louise Michel and Us), color, 13 min., 1971.

Et les chiens se taisaient (And the Dogs Fell Silent), color, 13 min., 1971.

Sambizanga, 16/35 mm, color, 102 min., 1972.

La Basilique de Saint-Denis (The Saint-Denis Basilica), 16 mm, color, 5 min., 1976.

Un Homme, une terre: Aime Cesaire (A Man, a Land: Aime Cesaire), 16 mm, color, 51 min., 1977.

Paris, le cimetiere du Pere Lachaise (Paris, the Pere Lachaise Cemetery), 16 mm, color, 5 min., 1977.

Un Masque à Paris: Louis Aragon (A Mask in Paris: Louis Aragon), 16mm, color, 13 min., 1978.

Miro, 16 mm, color, 5 min., 1979.

Fogo, l’île de feu (Fogo, Island of Fire), 16 mm, color, 13 min., 1979.

Un Carnaval dans le Sahel (A Carnival in the Sahel), 16 mm, color, 13 min., 1979.

Un Dessert pour Constance (A Dessert for Constance), 16 mm, color, 51 min., 1980.

L' Hopital de Leningrad (The Leningrad Hospital), 16 mm, color, 51 min., 1982.

Le Passager du Tassili (The Tassili Passenger), 16 mm, color, 90 min., 1986.

Portrait de Madame Diop (Portrait of Mrs. Diop), 16 mm, color, 10 min., 1986.


Aimé Cèsaire, le masque des mots, documentary, 1987.
Vlady, documentary, 1988.
Léon G. Damas. 16mm, BW, 26 min., documentary, 1995.


Interviews of Sarah Maldoror

Condé, Maryse. "Entretien avec Sarah Maldoror." Recherche, Pédagogie et Culture, February-March 1981, pp. 56-58.

Harvey, Sylvia. "Third World Perspectives: Focus on Sarah Maldoror." Women and Film, vol. I, n. 5-6, 1974, pp. 71-75, 110.

Hennebelle, Guy. "Sarah Maldoror, cinéaste guadeloupéenne auteur de Monangambee nous déclare." Jeune Afrique, n. 469, 24 December 1969, p. 45.

_____."Pour ou contre un cinéma engagé?" L'Afrique Littéraire et Artistique, n. 19, October 1971, pp. 87-93.

_____. "Entretien avec Sarah Maldoror." Ecran 73, n. 15, May 1973, pp. 70-71.

_____. "Maldoror Sarah." L'Afrique Litteraire et Artistique, n. 49, 3rd Quarter 1978, pp.88-91.

Hennebelle, Monique. "Sambizanga: un film de Sarah Maldoror sur les débuts de la guerre de libération en Angola." L' Afrique Littéraire et Artistique, n. 28, April 1973, pp. 78-87.

Maillet, Dominique. "Sarah Maldoror." Cinématographe, n. 3, Summer 1973, pp. 41-42.

Film Reviews and Studies of Sarah Maldoror

Aubert, Alain. "Ouagadougou." Ecran 79, n. 82,15 July 1979, pp. 15 16.B, C. "Avant-première, Un dessert pour Constance." La Croix, 12 February 1981, p. 18.

Barenat, Jean. "Une Histoire d'Africains." L'Humanité, 13 February 1981, p. 2.

Bosséno, Christian. "Sur deux films récents: Ali au pays des Mirages et un dessert pour Constance." Cinémaction, Supplement to Tumulte, n. 7, 1982, pp. 68-69.

Calvet, Anne. "Un Dessert pour Constance." Humanité Dimanche, 8 February 1981, radio/television insert.

Cluny, Claude-Michel. "Sambizanga." Cinéma 73, n. 178-179, 1973, p. 308.

Condé, Maryse. "Maldoror change de veste." Afrique, n. 47, May 1981, p. 47.

Ferrari, Alain. "Le Second Souffle du cinéma africain." Téléciné, n. 176, January 1973, pp. 2-9.

Garcin, Jérôme. "Réalisateurs, les nouvelles de Daniel Boulanger vous tendent leurs pages!" Les Nouvelles Littéraires, 12 February 1981, p. 41.

Gross, Linda. "Africa's Xala and Sambizanga." Los Angeles Times, 23 September 1977, pp. 14, 15.

Hélène. "Le Dessert des Wolofs." Libération, 12 February 1981, p. 21.

Hennebelle, Guy. "Le Cinéma et les guerillas africaines." L'Afrique Littéraire et Artistique, n. 20, 1972, pp. 267-78.

_____. "Le Troisième Festival panafricain de cinéma de Ouagadougou." L'Afrique Littéraire et Artistique, n. 22, March 1972, pp. 88-95.

_____. "Sambizanga." Ecran 73, n. 15, May 1973, pp. 70-71.

_____. Guide des films anti-impérialistes. Paris: Editions du Centenaire, 1975.

Humblot, Catherine. "Tableau de la France raciste." Le Monde, 8 February 1981, p. 9.

Jacques, Paula. "Guinée-Bissau: le mythe et la réalité." Jeune Afrique, n. 565, 6 November 1971, pp. 62-63.

Kerbel, Michael. "Angola: Brutality and Betrayal." Village Voice, 6 December 1973, p.85.

Knorr, Wolfram. "Sambizanga." Jugend Film Fernsehen, n. 3, 1973, pp. 155-56.

Labrousse, Alain. "Sambizanga ou la naissance d'une révolution." Le Monde Diplomatique, April 1973, p. 21.

Maillet, Dominique. "Sambizanga." Cinématographe, n. 3, Summer 1973, p. 42.

Martin, Angela. African Films: The Context of Production. London: British Film Institute, 1982.

Moran, Marty. "Sambizanga: Powerful Story of the Angolan Revolution." Bulletin, 10 April 1981, p. 14.

Mosk. "Sambizanga." Variety, 25 Apri11973, p. 18.

Navas, Christiane. "Le Passage duTasili." Télérama, 1 August 1987, p. 67.

Nourry, Philippe. "Pousse-au-crime et pause-café. " Le Figaro, 16 February 1981, p. 26.

Pearson, Lyle. "Four Years of African Film." Film Quarterly, vol. 26, n. 3, Spring 1973, pp. 42-47.

Pfaff, Françoise. "Sarah Maldoror." Black Art, vol. 5, n. 2, 1982, pp. 25-32.

Relich, Mario. "Africa's Women Film Makers." West Africa, 21 June 1982, p. 1850.

Schmidt, Nancy J. "African Literature on Film." Research in African Literatures, vol. 13, n. 4, Winter 1982, pp. 518-28.

Schoenbemer, Gerhard. "Det svarta Afrikas filmer och deras regissorer." Chaplin 166, n. 1, 1980, pp. 10-15.

Taylor, Clyde. "Shooting the Black Woman." The Black Collegian, May-June 1979, pp.94-96.

Vieyra, Paulin Soumanou. Le Cinéma africain. Paris: Présence Africaine, 1975.