Sarah Maldoror

“I’m no adherent to the concept of the ‘Third World’. I make films so that people - no matter what race or color they are - can understand them. For me there are only exploiters and the exploited, that’s all. To make a film means to take a position.” - Sarah Maldoror 

Sarah Maldoror, a French filmmaker of West Indies descent, was a pioneer of Pan-African cinema. At the core of her work, she placed political concerns along with her longstanding involvement in decolonization movements.

Her groundbreaking film and “revolutionary picture” Sambizanga (1972) follows Angolan militants’ anti-colonial liberation struggle, as well as captures a woman’s perspective in a historical moment she finds herself in. 

“For many African filmmakers, cinema is a revolutionary tool, a political education to raise consciousness. It is inscribed in the evolution of a Third Cinema striving to decolonize thought and advocate radical changes in society.” - Sarah Maldoror

Throughout her career, Sarah - together with a number of African and Caribbean artists - co-founded (1956) the first Black theatre troupe in France. She made around 40 films, comprising important documentaries that amplify the lives and work of black artists, including her friend and poet Aimé Césaire who wrote to her: 

“To Sarah Maldo
who, a camera in hand,
fights oppression, alienation
and flies in the face
of human bullshit.”

Sarah was also committed to giving African women more ownership of the filmmaking process. In an interview, she pointed out: 

"African women must be everywhere. They must be in the images, behind the camera, in the editing room and involved in every stage of the making of a film. They must be the ones to talk about their problems." 

Sarah left an incredibly powerful legacy to be carried forward. 

Born 19 July 1929, Sarah passed away on 13 April 2020 from complications of the coronavirus.

Watch Sambizanga and read a film review in a 1973 New York Times article