This masterwork by Ousmane Sembene, the 81-year-old father of African cinema and one of Senegal’s greatest novelists, is the second film in a trilogy celebrating African women (after Faat Kine, a 2000 comedy about a sassy, self-made city woman). It focuses on the defiant second wife of an elder in a West African village who refuses to allow four little girls to undergo the traditional circumcision ceremony. Among Sembene’s strengths as a storyteller are deceptive simplicity and apparent looseness, which allow his drama to steadily gather momentum and political force. His ambiguous, multilayered treatment of a flirtatious local merchant who partially represents the world outside the village is emblematic of his virtuosity. In Bambara with subtitles. 120 min. Music Box.

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