In the village of Djerisso, women tend to their work and children, while men debate in the mosque and make the rules. One day, four little girls appear on Collé's doorstep seeking sanctuary from their coming 'purification' ceremony. Years ago, Collé refused to allow her daughter to undergo the procedure. She takes them in and declares a moolaadé, a protective spirit, or safe zone that will bring a terrible curse upon anyone who breaks it. Thus begins a standoff that escalates into a bloody showdown between tradition and modernization, men and women, and progress and stagnation. Confronting the village elders and red-robed priestesses who perform the ritual, Collé has eyes saddened by experience, but made righteously fiery with the hope that she can reduce the misery of future generations. At 81, Mr. Sembene has made a masterpiece, both a critique of traditional forms of authority and a celebration of the warmth and dynamism of African village life.
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