“The Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene (1923–2007), often called the father of African cinema, had a seismic career. He effectively created an African film industry out of nothing: In 1963, with a used 16mm camera and leftover film stock sent by friends from Europe, he made a short called Borom Sarret .

(The Wagon Driver), considered the first African movie made by a black African. Until the independence of French West Africa in 1960, French colonial authorities had made it illegal for Africans to make films of their own, so countries like Senegal had no film equipment, no professional actors, and no funding; Sembene used friends and family to put the film together. “Any time I hear an American independent talking about his war story in getting a film made, I have to smile to myself and think of Ousmane Sembene,” says co-director Silverman.