Diouana, a young woman from a Senegalese village, roams Dakar every day looking for work. In spite of the huge supply of unemployed women, owing to her submissiveness she is 'chosen' to be the nanny for a rich French family. When she is permitted to move to France to live with them, a dream seems to be coming true. When this dream turns into an inescapable nightmare, she decides to commit a last act of self-determination.
Ousmane Sembene’s highly-praised feature debut is seen as marking the birth of sub-Saharan African cinema. Until 1960, it was illegal under ‘Le Décret Laval’ for Africans in French colonies to make films and thereby express their artistic, cultural or political vision. This black-and-white film is a layered post-colonial story that surgically exposes the colonial process of dehumanisation, interspersed with issues of ethnicity, class and gender. Many political films followed – in which he also held up a mirror to Africans – making him a valued but also controversial filmmaker.