We met with the swiss director Christophe Cupelin in a café in the 11th arrondissement of Paris on the occasion of the cinema release of his documentary CAPTAIN THOMAS SANKARA.
The film traces the meteoric rise of Thomas Sankara, a young military High-Volta still under the influence of France’s colonial past in the 1980s, until his appointment to the post of President at the head of an independent State, which he helped to form : Burkina Faso. The documentary of Christophe Cupelin also refers to the assassination of Thomas Sankara, which was involved his right arm and confidant, Blaise Compaoré, who “succeed” from 1987 to 2014.
The elections are being held this Sunday 29 November 2015 the first elections are truly “free” since the counter-revolution organised by Blaise Compaoré who has grind to a halt all the advances in the social and cultural launched by Thomas Sankara.
Christophe Cupelin has traveled many times to Burkina Faso, to bind long-lasting friendships and a profound attachment to the country. However, it is with a feeling of fatalism that he has observed a slow decline of the legacy of Thomas Sankara. The man was wearing ideas, anti-imperialist, feminist, and progressive. It has made every effort to ensure that these ideas are embodied in concrete results, as quickly as possible.
Christophe Cupelin appeared to us as very attached to his film subject, but at the same time very modest in the treatment that he wished to make. On the one hand he sees in Thomas Sankara “a true spiritual father, a role model that I have long sought in the world, not being able to take my own father as an example.” Another side his film is only made of archive and bits and pieces of news and programming on the mystery that surrounds the personality of Thomas Sankara.
“Stick a voice-over or talk about my empathy with Thomas Sankara, it would have been a way to put myself forward, that I did not want. I wanted to make a tribute to this utopian.” At the same time, the director acknowledges that “it is a film archive by default.” The initial project was to include testimonies of the family and the family of Thomas Sankara, which was not possible. In fact, his alleged killer has been dismissed from his post as president just one year, the climate is not yet conducive to this, that tongues loosen.
“Utopian” and not idealistic, because, according to Christophe Cupelin, CAPTAIN THOMAS SANKARA was well aware of the dismal fate that awaited him. “He himself knew that there was no chance that it works. “It was not the time,” he said, “we are going to get messed up. It is necessary to make the most of things before you die. “”
A deep yearning for a broken dream emanates at once from the mount of Christophe Cupelin, but also of his person when he speaks of his subject. We felt the thread of the conversation that the film could also see it as a means to close a “mourning.” Christophe has reported that friends of Burkina faso, formerly activists of Sankara, turned today to his reverence for the man in derision. “Thomas Sankara ? It is necessary to forget Christophe” they ask, ” with Blaise Compaoré, at least it was stable, we could do business. “
It must be said that Blaise was buying social peace at a high price. “It is reported that he was throwing tickets over the villages to ensure to be supported.”
Christophe Cupelin is very appreciative of the citizens ‘ movements that have succeeded in putting an end to the era of president Blaise Compaore. “Beyond the results of Sunday’s elections, it is necessary to see this election as a turning point, the beginning of an awareness by civil society of its power. In a country that did there was little that a voter for five people, the path is still long.”
The memory work that follows, both by the results that will lead the investigation and the autopsy of Thomas Sankara 25 years after his assassination, but also by the discovery of these images from the archives held secret for several decades, will certainly contribute to consolidate the democratic transition of Burkina Faso. The film CAPTAIN THOMAS SANKARA is a rock of modest, but essential, to the building of this wall.
• Original title : Captain Thomas Sankara
• Realization : Christophe Cupelin
• Screenplay : Christophe Cupelin
• Country of origin : Switzerland
• Output : 25/11/15
• Duration : 1h30mn
• Distributor : Friday Distribution
• Synopsis : Mount archives to trace the dazzling career of captain Thomas Sankara, who became President of the revolutionary Burkina Faso before being murdered.