Camp de Thiaroye (1989)

Towards the end of 1944, at a bleak military transit camp in Senegal, soldiers from several parts of Africa who have fought with the Free French army to overthrow fascism in Europe, await demobilization, severance pay, and a trip home. French Captain Raymond sincerely tries to convince his Senegalese NCO Diatta that the massacres by French troops, such as that in which Diatta's parents were killed, are a banished phenomenon from the Vichy past. The film's dialectic is intent on proving him wrong. By the end, Raymond has been ostracized as a Communist by his fellow officers, and gradually the attempt by the French command to cheat the African veterans out of their severance pay provokes a mutiny. The French response is an armored attack on the camp with a near total loss of life. "Camp de Thiaroye" is true both to the historical record of the massacre and to the underlying culture of European imperialism. In Wolof and French with English sub-titles. Color. 153 minutes.


45th Venice mostra (Italy):
-Jury's Special Grand Prize
-Golden Ciak Prize
-Unicef Nuovo Prize
-Prize Youth and Cinema

Critical Works

N’daw, Aly Kheury. "Sembene Ousmane tourne le Camp de Thiaroye." Le Soleil 24 Mar. 1987: 10.

N’daw, Aly Kheury. "Thiaroye à l'écran." Le Soleil 22 May 1987: 1-13.

Pym, John. “ Camp Thiaroye.” Sight and Sound vol.58 n.4 (1989) :280

Gugler, Josef. Faction, Fact, and the Critic’s Responsibility: Camp de Thiaroye, Yaaba and The Gods Must Be Crazy. Bloomington: Indiana UP; Focus on African Films, 2004.

Harrow, Kenneth W. Camp de Thiaroye: “Who's That Hiding in Those Tanks, and How Come We Can't See Their Faces.” Iris, (Spring 1995) 18: 147-52.

Leahy, James. “Camp de Thiaroye.” Senses of Cinema: An Online Film Journal Devoted to the Serious and Eclectic Discussion of Cinema (Sept-Oct 2003): 28.

Ngugi, Njeri. “Presenting and (Mis)Representing History in Fiction Film: Sembène’s Camp de Thiaroye and Attenborough’s Cry Freedom.” Journal of African Cultural Studies (June 2003): 57-68.

Shaka, Femi Okiremuete. “Vichy Dakar and the Other Story of French Colonial Stewardship in Africa: A Critical Reading of Ousmane Sembène and Thierno Faty Sow's Camp de Thiaroye.” Research in African Literatures, 1995 Fall; 26 (3): 67-77.

Clip from Camp de Thiaroye