Thierno Leye and the cast of Xala (1975)
Xala (1975) © Filmi Domirev

Presented by ACMI in association with the Sydney Film Festival


Ousmane Sembène | Senegal | 1975 | Unclassified (15+)

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Fri 14 Jun - Sat 22 Jun 2024

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Sembène's scathing satire of a barely postcolonial Senegal is wryly funny and shocking in equal measure.

The jokes and details are delightful, yet there's real anger behind them, and it bursts spectacularly into view in the concluding frames.

Geoff Andrew (Time Out)

Xala is a brilliantly funny satire set in post-colonial Senegal, displaying Ousmane Sembène’s scepticism about his country’s new dawn after independence from France.

Thierno Laye plays El Hadj, a middle-aged Senegalese businessman who sits on the Dakar Chamber of Commerce. The members of the board have inherited their positions from their departing European overlords – but they’re corrupt, quietly bought off with briefcases full of cash. El Hadj decides to marry a third wife, but on the evening of the wedding he suddenly discovers himself impotent (xala translates to sexual impotence in Wolof). Thinking he’s cursed, he goes to various healers, but without results.

Based on the novel of the same name by Sembène, this film upset the government so much that 11 cuts were made before it was released in Dakar.

– Keith Shiri, Curator

Format: DCP
Language: French & Wolof with English subtitles
Source: Janus Films
Courtesy: Janus Films
Runtime: 123 mins

Event duration

123 mins


Unclassified (15+)

Viewers under the age of 15 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.


Cinema 1, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

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Focus on Ousmane Sembène (Thu 13 Jun – Sun 30 Jun 2024)

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