Sembène: The Film and Arts Festival was founded in 2009 by Executive Director Sabira Cole to celebrate the life of African Filmmaker Ousmane Sembène, through film and other complementary cultural events. It is intended to honor Ousmane Sembène's life and legacy and to showcase filmmakers and other art/cultural events that speak, unflinchingly, to the important issues facing the modern African Diaspora.

In February 2020, Executive Director Sabira Cole passed away unexpectedly. In the months immediately prior to her passing, she had envisioned a new approach to achieving the organization's mission. This year, her family, friends, and partners will honor her legacy in locally and internationally by holding a juried film festival with awards and symposia in November. Our vision is that Sembene will remain rooted in the Pittsburgh community but grow to serve the Diaspora.

By choosing to take part in this year's festival, you are honoring the legacies of both Ousmane Sembène and Sabira Cole two visionaries from the African Diaspora. We thank you and look forward to sharing your work.

Obituary, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: https://www.post-gazette.com/news/obituaries/2020/03/01/Sabira-Bushra-obituary-Phyllis-Hill-Cole/stories/202002290031

Obituary, Pittsburgh Courier: https://newpittsburghcourier.com/2020/03/05/social-political-activist-phyllis-sabira-bushra-hill-cole-dies-at-66/

Sembène has three main categories:

Feature-length narrative film - a film of more than 25 minutes in length, from an original script. Films in this category will ideally be at least 45 minutes duration. Eligible for the Sabira Cole Award, Best Narrative Feature. The Festival will award a first, second and third prize.
Feature-length documentary - a film of more than 25 minutes in length, addressing a real-world event or issue. Films in this category will ideally be at least 45 minutes duration. Eligible for the Sabira Cole Award, Best Documentary Feature. The Festival will award a first, second and third prize.
Short narrative or documentary film - a film of at least 15 minutes, but not more than 25 minutes in duration. Films may be from an original script or addressing a real-world event or issue. Eligible for the Sabira Cole Award, Best Short Film, Narrative or Documentary. The Festival will award a first, second and third prize.
In addition to the category description, filmmakers are encouraged to look at the previous screenings for a sense of the issues important to the founders of the festival. These include:
Significant and under-appreciated contributors to Pan-African music, arts and culture;
Great African Americans from the Greater Pittsburgh community;
Realistic and affirming portrayals of the lives and communities of people of color;
Exposing environmental injustice and grassroots movements to build social and environmental equity in underserved communities of color;
Progressive politics and criminal justice reform;
Highlighting previously unappreciated or misunderstood events in the history of people of African descent;
Female leaders addressing issues of importance to underserved communities of color;
Building multi-ethnic, intersectional coalitions to build social justice for the least of us;
The dreams, lives, and needs of black children.
Of the issues explored above, a particular concern of Sabira's throughout her life is how to lift up and celebrate our children. This is an expansion of the legacy of her mother, Geraldine B. Hill. To highlight the importance of future generations to the African Diaspora, Sembène will also offer the Geraldine B. Hill Award, Films for Children and Youth. The guidelines for this award are as follows:
Any film submitted for any of the above categories may select the additional option of being considered for the Geraldine B. Hill Award. Depending on submissions, Sembène reserves the right not to award any films in this category.
Films considered for this award should be of appropriate length and content to show in a classroom setting - between 20 and 45 minutes, suitable for PG or PG-13 audiences.
Films considered for this award should offer information or perspective on the issues facing African American youth in a way that empowers them toward success.
Special consideration will be given to films by young people (21 and under) for young people.
The Festival will award a first prize and 3 honorable mentions.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO SUBMIT TO SEMBENE?

Sembene accepts films and videos made by and/or about people of African descent. (Filmmaker needn't be of African descent.)
Films can be of any genre -- drama, comedy, horror, adventure, animation, romance, science fiction, experimental, etc. We want to be surprised and inspired by your work! Sembene accepts features and shorts; narratives and documentaries.
Filmmakers may also choose to look at the previous screenings for a sense of the issues important to the founders of the festival. These include:
Significant and under-appreciated contributors to Pan-African music, arts and culture;
Great African Americans from the Greater Pittsburgh community;
Realistic and affirming portrayals of the individuals and communities of people of color;
Grassroots movements to build social and environmental equity in communities of color;
Progressive politics and criminal justice reform;
Highlighting under-appreciated milestones in Pan-African history;
Female leaders in communities of color;
Building multi-ethnic, intersectional coalitions for social justice;
The dreams, lives and needs of black children.

SPECIAL CATEGORIES:
To highlight the importance of future generations to the African Diaspora, Sembène will also offer the Geraldine B. Hill Award, Films for Children and Youth. The guidelines for this award are as follows:
Any film submitted for any of the above categories may select the additional option of being considered for the Geraldine B. Hill Award. Depending submissions, Sembène reserves the right not to award any films in this category.
Films considered for this award should be of appropriate length and content to show in a classroom setting - between 20 and 45 minutes, suitable for a PG or PG-13 audience.
Films considered for this award should offer information or perspective on the issues facing African American youth in a way that empowers them toward success.
Special consideration will be given to films by young people (21 and younger) for young people.

All submissions must be in English or have English subtitles.
Sembene will only accept the submissions of substantially completed films -- please, no submissions of films less than 80% complete or films with missing scenes or audio portions.

IF MY FILM IS ACCEPTED, WHAT PROJECTION FORMAT WILL SEMBENE ACCEPT?

Sembene's accepted projection formats for Feature Films are DCP, online link and Blu-Ray. For Short Films (25 minutes or less) you will be asked to submit an online link. We may also accept DCP and BluRay depending on program needs.

If there are any updates for projection formats, you will receive them with your acceptance notification.

We will accept DVDs only when no other format is available and only as a last resort. DVDs are strongly discouraged because they are unreliable for public presentation due to skipping, stopping and other playback defects.

Sembene will not accept watermarked films for public presentation.