Veteran Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene is rarely mentioned without ‘the father of African film’ being uttered in the next breath. It’s a patriarchal label for a director who often puts women at the heart of his films. Here, he tackles the controversy of female circumcision in a passionate drama set in a rural village in Burkina Faso. When four little girls flee a purification ceremony and ‘the cut’, they take refuge with Collé (Fatoumata Coulibaly), a woman who refused to have her own daughter circumcised. She casts a mystical protection (the Moolaadé of the title) and a standoff follows. On one side is Collé, and on the other is the Salidana, a group of women cloaked in red robes who perform the age-old circumcision rites. At first the men of the village dismiss the dispute as a minor domestic irritation. But before long the crisis intensifies, and, concerned that their wives are rebelling, they confiscate their radios and burn them in front of the mosque. Sembene’s camera often strays back to this humming bonfire, a neat metaphor for the suppression of the women by their husbands. Sembene makes films about Africa for Africans and ‘Moolaadé’ is undoubtedly a plea to the 38 of the 54 countries in the African Union that still practise female circumcision. But it is also a warm-hearted and wryly observed take on village life. This is an impassioned and uplifting film in which brightly coloured plastic bowls, rutting goats and gossiping women all vie for attention.