(Senegal, 1963) by Ousmane Sembène

Written and narrated by: Ousmane Sembène; Editing: André Gaudier; Director of Photography: Christian Lacoste; Assistant Cameraman: Ibrahima Barro; Starring: Ly Abdoulay, Albourah; Running Time: 22’, b&w; Country of Production: Senegal; Language: French and Wolof.

Restored in 2013 by the World Cinema Foundation in association with INA. The restoration was carried out at Éclair Laboratories and Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory.

I think given the fact that there is such a diversity of languages in Africa, we, African filmmakers, will have to find our own way in order to ensure that the message be understood by everyone, or we’ll have to find a language that comes from the image and the gestures. I think I would go as far as to say that we will have to go back and see some of the silent films and in that way find new inspiration.

Contrary to what people think, we talk a lot in Africa but we talk when it’s time to talk. There are also those who say blacks spend all of their time dancing – but we dance for reasons which are our own.

Dancing is not a flaw in itself, but I never see an engineer dancing in front of his machine, and a continent or a people do not spend its time dancing.

All of this means that the African filmmaker’s work is very important – he must find a way that is his own, he must find his own symbols, even create symbols if he has to.

[...] I then realized Borom Sarret, my first true short film. It is the story of a cartman who is, to some extent, the taxi driver of a horse-drawn cart. Confronted by a rich customer in a residential district prohibited to such a type of vehicle, a cop stops him, makes a complaint, and seizes the cart. Relieved of his livelihood, the poor fellow remains sadly in his place. His wife entrusts the guardianship of their children to him while saying to him “We will eat this evening…” For this I got the first work prize at the Festival of Tours in 1963.

-Ousmane Sembène


The restoration of Borom Sarret was made possible through the use of the original camera and sound negatives provided by INA and preserved at Éclair Laboratories.

The film was scanned in 4K at Éclair Laboratories and restored at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory. The image was digitally stabilized and cleaned, and all wear marks were eliminated. Image grading helped recover the richness of the original cinematography.

After scanning, the sound was digitally cleaned and background noise reduction was applied to eliminate all wear marks, without losing any of the dynamic features of the original soundtrack.

The World Cinema Foundation would like to specially thank Alain Sembène and the Sembène Family for facilitating the restoration process.