Jolly Cinema > 15:15


Ousmane Sembène, Thierno Faty Sow
Introduced by

Margaret Bodde (The Film Foundation), Aboubakar Sanogo (FEPACI)


Tuesday 25/06/2024


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

This restoration is part of the African Film Heritage Project, an initiative created by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, the FEPACI and UNESCO – in collaboration with Cineteca di Bologna – to help locate, restore and disseminate African cinema.
Many African films have received the support of French funding, but Camp de Thiaroye is one of a series of films whose very existence French funders and producers did everything in their power to prevent. They argued that such films were highly subversive since they denounced the barbarity of colonisation. A Western world that continues to brandish its claim to human rights was incapable of tolerating films about its criminal past. I recall that post-fascist and democratic Italy also censored the remarkable movie The Lion of the Desert, a condemnation of the crimes committed by soldiers of the fascist regime in Libya. This masterpiece by Syrian Mustapha Akkad, produced by Libya, was distributed worldwide, but ironically, it was banned for Italian audiences, the very people allegedly concerned. It should also be pointed out that producers of the North refused to finance Amok, an anti-apartheid work directed by Moroccan filmmaker Souheil Ben Barka, featuring a cast of extraordinary actors including Miriam Makeba and Douta Seck. The film was only made possible by all-South funding from Morocco, Senegal and Guinea. When it became a hit at festivals around the world at the height of the African National Congress’s anti-apartheid movement, a racist Swiss distributor purchased the exclusive distribution rights for the whole of the West at a high price – not so that he could distribute it, but simply to ensure it would be fully blocked for the ten years of its contract.
The film Camp de Thiaroye by Sembène Ousmane and Thierno Faty Sow was made thanks to the collaboration of three countries of the South: Senegal, Tunisia and Algeria, with a pan-African team of technical and artistic directors. Post-production was carried out at the SATPEC in Tunisia. When the film was finished, Cannes 1988 rejected it. However, in September of the same year, it was screened as an official selection at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Prize.
This crucial pan-African film about the importance of remembrance does justice to those known as the Senegalese tirailleurs, the majority of whom were drafted into the French army against their will to fight the Nazis. After making substantial sacrifices and suffering thousands of casualties to defend France, the tirailleurs who had survived the war were nonetheless humiliated and mistreated by the French army. Instead of rewarding them, the French forces bombarded and massacred these soldiers when they demanded their right to the end-of-enlistment recompense.

Mohamed Challouf

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Ousmane Sembène, Thierno Faty Sow. F.: Ismail Lakhdar Hamina. M.: Kahena Attia. Mus.: Ismaila Lo. Int.: Ibrahim Sane (sergente capo Diatta), Jean-Daniel Simon (capitano Raymond), Marthe Mercadier (la proprietaria del ‘Coq hardi’), Sidiki Bakaba (Sijirii Bakara), Pays Ismaël Lô (il soldato che suona l’armonica), Casimir Zoba (un soldato congolese). Prod.: Enaproc, Films Domireew, Films Kajoor, Satpec, Société Nouvelle Pathé Cinéma. DCP. D.: 147’. Col.