Blu-ray Review: Mandabi

Ibrahim and his wives

Often referred to as the ‘father of African cinema’, Ousmane Sembène was certainly one of the original filmmakers to come out of the sub-Saharan region and arguably the most influential of the twentieth century. The Senegalese director was the first from the continent to bridge over into international film festivals and receive international recognition and acclaim. In 1968, his second film, Mandabi (Money Order), won the Special Jury prize at Venice Film Festival.

Ibrahim (Makhouredia Gueye) is a poor man struggling to feed and please his two wives (Ynousse N’Diaye and Isseu Niang) and seven children. When he receives a money order from his nephew in Paris it seems like all his prayers have been answered. However, he soon discovers that in order to carry-out a simple financial transaction he needs to jump through a number of hoops and Dakar’s bureaucracy is not his only problem.

Mandabi is a Kafkaesque tale of one man’s increasingly desperate attempts to achieve the dream of solvency. Hindered by ridiculous layers of red tape and corruption, which were endemic in the West African nation at the time, Sembène’s film is a scathing social satire about the inequalities and injustices in his homeland. It’s also a colourful and droll drama which becomes increasingly amusing as it progresses. The first movie to be made in an African language, Mandabi is an absolute hoot.


  • Shooting Mandabi – Silent Footage from British Pathé
  • Audio Commentary with Sembène! (2015) Filmmakers Samba Gadjigo and Jason Silverman
  • Interview with Alain Sembène
  • Interview with African film Curator and Consultant Keith Shiri
  • Discussion with Sembène Specialist and Author David Murphy
  • Conversation in Dakar with Author Boubacar Boris Diop and Sociologist Marie-Angélique Savané
  • Theatrical trailer
  • 20-page booklet with brand-new essay from celebrated Sembène writer David Murphy

Mandabi is in cinemas now and released on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital by Studiocanal on 28 June.

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  1. September 14, 2022

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