FACE Foundation

- Supporting French-American Cultural Exchange in Education and the Arts

Afrique sur Seine, L’envers du décor, Une nation est née, Lamb
Africa on the Seine, L’envers du décor, A Nation was Born, Lamb

This program of documentary shorts is both a stirring introduction to the Beninese/Senegalese filmmaker considered the first sub-Saharan African film director and a rich overview of the period of African independence and nation-building. Vieyra’s 1955 essay film Africa on the Seine (co-directed with Mamadou Sarr) begins on the banks of the Niger but moves quickly to Paris, “the capital of Black Africa.” Combining street photography with a poetic voiceover, Vieyra achieves a remarkable portrait of the African diaspora and a forward-looking paean to racial diversity. As the title indicates, the 1961 short A Nation Was Born does nothing less than describe the history and birth of the modern African nation of Senegal. With tremendous economy of means, Vieyra depicts an idyllic pre-colonial land in West Africa, the traumatism of colonialism, and the optimism of the newly independent country. A documentary about the Senegalese national sport of wrestling, Lamb eloquently demonstrates that wrestling here is more than a sport, but a spectacle, a game, and a way of life. Lamb was the first film from Sub-Saharan Africa selected at the Cannes Film Festival, in 1964. L’Envers du décor (1980) is an extraordinary behind-the-scenes record of the shooting of the 1976 feature film Ceddo by Senegalese master Ousmane Sembène, and a crucial lesson in filmmaking and
the perspective of the African artist.


Paulin Soumanou Vieyra

Africa on the Seine
(Paulin Soumanou Vieyra, Mamadou Sarr, Marpessa Dawn, Annette M’Baye)



Africa on the Seine
(Documentary, French with English subtitles, 21 min., Senegal, 1955)

(Documentary, Wolof and French with English subtitles, 18 min., Senegal, 1963)

A Nation was Born
(Documentary, Wolof and French with English subtitles, 25 min., Senegal, 1961)

L’envers du décor
(Documentary, Wolof and French with English subtitles, 25 min., Senegal, 1981

Total runtime: 89 min.

African Film Festival, Inc.

$120 – $420

Vimeo with password-protected link