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Year: 2004
USA: New Yorker Films
UK: Artificial Eye
Cast: Fatoumata Coulibaly, Maimouna Helene Diarra, Salimata Traore, Dominique Ze´da, Mah Compaore, Aminata Dao
Director: Ousmane Sembene
Country: Senegal
Languages: Jula / French / Wolof (English subtitles)
USA & UK: 124 mins
UK Certificate: 15 contains strong language, sex and female circumcision theme
USA Release Date: 15 October 2004 (Limited Release)
UK Release Date: 3 June 2005
UK Distributor


African cinema's founding father, 81 year-old Ousmane Sembene, continues to be its most fiery, provocative spirit. Extending the strong feminist consciousness that marked his previous triumph FAAT KINe (as well as such earlier classics as BLACK GIRL and CEDDO), MOOLAADe is a rousing polemic directed against the still common African practice of female circumcision.

The action is set in a small African village, where four young girls facing ritual "purification" flee to the household of Colle Ardo Gallo Sy, a strong-willed woman who has managed to shield her own teenage daughter from mutilation. Colle invokes the time-honored custom of moolaade (sanctuary) to protect the fugitives, and tension mounts as the ensuing standoff pits Colle against village traditionalists (both male and female) and endangers the prospective marriage of her daughter to the heir-apparent to the tribal throne.

Though the subject matter might seem weighty, this buoyant film is anything but. Sembene places the action amid a colorful, vibrant tapestry of village life and expands the narrative well beyond the bounds of straightforward, socially conscious realism employing an imaginative array of emblematic metaphors, mythic overtones, and musical numbers. Winner of the Grand Prize in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, MOOLAADe was selected by many prominent critics as the best film of the entire festival.

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