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20 August 2017: Camp de Thiaroye


Camp de Thiaroye
Ousmane Sembène & Thierno Faty Sow
1987 | 152 min | Colour | Digital

“A historical fiction based on the Thiaroye transit camp massacre in 1944, Ousmane Sembène and Thierno Faty Sow's Camp de Thiaroye dismantles the myth of colonial assimilation to expose ingrained social and cultural mechanisms of racism, exploitation, and privilege.” – Acquarello

“In 1944, the French army massacred several units of West African conscripts recently returned from the battlefields of Europe. Sembène, who had been drafted into the French army that same year, knew of this event and in 1998 used it as the basis for his sixth feature film. What was essentially a demand by African veterans that they be paid the same wages as their French counterparts led to an attack on soldiers who had only recently been fighting the Nazis in Italy and Germany. In 1944, the French colonial authorities viewed returning African veterans as second class citizens and because the colonial administration was financially bankrupt, found it convenient to refuse their demands. The resulting mutiny by the veterans of Camp Thiaroye led to a full scale artillery attack on the camp.” – Harvard Film Archive

Part of our season on Ousmane Sembène