Captain Thomas Sankara

Documentary by Christophe Cupelin

88 minutes – 2012


A portrait composed of archives of Thomas Sankara, president of Burkina Faso between 1983 and his murder in 1987. Ready to liberate his country and transform the mentalities of his fellow citizens, contesting the world’s political order and challenging the powers of his time, Sankara stands out strongly in the history both of Africa and of the world.


Co-production with:
Laïka Films (Suisse)
RTS Radio Télévision Suisse

Festival & Awards (selection)

Black Movie, Suisse – Prix du Public – 2012

Festival dei Popoli, Florence, 2012

DOK Leipzig, 2012

Festival du Film Locarno, 2012

Visions du Réel, Nyon, 2012

(lire plus)

Sales & distribution

World Sales : Laïka Films

Distribution Switzerland: Cineworx GmbH
Distribution France: Vendredi Film


On 4 August 1983, Thomas Sankara becomes the president of Upper Volta after a coup d’état. A year later, he definitively creates a turning point in the history and identity of his country, renaming it «Burkina Faso», literally «Land of Upright Men».

He brings enormous hope to a great portion of African youth far beyond the boundaries of his country. By conducting a « democratic and popular » revolution, he brings more progress to the people during the four years of his presidency than during half a century of French colonial rule.

His liberation policy for Burkina Faso promotes food autonomy in particular, causing him to radically oppose all forms of imperialist or neo-colonial influence, and making him an inflexible voice against those in power at that time.

Sankara attempted a thorough reform of a civil society that he considered as being frozen in a feudal model. He struggled against inequalities between men and women, illiteracy, corruption, civil servants’ privileges… He constantly encouraged the Burkinabé people to take the reigns of their own destiny into their own hands by making them participate in the fight against malnutrition, thirst and contagious diseases.

However, despise the obvious success and popularity of his revolution, Sankara faces hidden challengers. He is brutally murdered on 15 October 1987 in a coup d’Etat which is believed to have been organized by Blaise Compaoré, the man whom he considered a brother and who is still president of Burkina Faso today. The new regime then attempts to wipe out the memory of these four years of Sankara’s presidency.

Blending together rare and meticulously assembled archives, director Christophe Cupelin offers a panoramic vision of the intellectual and political inheritance of this atypical head of state. Giving his documentary the energy of a punk manifesto, between idealism and irony, he faithfully restitutes the originality of a president as striking in his action as in his words.

In 2012, twenty-five years after his tragic and still not officially elucidated death, the film offers an opportunity to see and listen to the voice of one of the most important African leaders of the 20th century.



Directed by: Christophe Cupelin
Production: Christophe Cupelin (Laïka Films), Nicolas Wadimoff & Faycal Hassairi (Akka Films)
Co-production: Irène Challand & Gaspard Lamunière (RTS)
Cinematography: Caroline Cuénod, Abel Sankara
Editing: Christophe Cupelin
Location Sound Mix: Philippe Ciompi
Sound Editing: Christophe Cupelin, Philippe Ciompi
Sound Mix: Philippe Ciompi
Music: The Ex


LE MONDE DU 05.08.2012
TELERAMA.FR 22.04.2012

Dossier de presse [2.3 MB]


Black Movie, Suisse  – Prix du Public – 2013


Africa Alive, Frankfurt am Main, 2016
9th Küstendorf, Drvengrad, 2016
9e FAFD, Niger, 2015
Semaine de la Francophonie, Cineteca Madrid, 2015
FESPACO, Ouagadougou, 2015
Beyond the Maps – African Resistance Against Colonial Power, FSK-Kino, Berlin, 2015
AFRICADOC, Sénégal, 2014
Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage, La Marsa, 2014
UHURU, Rio de Janeiro 2014
África Hoje, Rio de Janeiro, 2014
Afrikanisches Filmfestival Hamburg, 2014
Ânûû-rû Âboro, 8e Festival international du cinéma des peuples, Nouvelle-Calédonie, 2014
12e Festival du Film européen, Bénin, 2014
Festival des Libertés, Bruxelles, 2013
Berlin Premiere, Africavenir, 2013
International Film Festival Innsbruck, 2013
Festival international Vues d’Afrique, Montréal, 2013
Forum Social Mondial, Tunis, 2013
15th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, 2013
Solothurner Filmtage, Soleure, 2013
Black Movie, Suisse, 2013
Festival dei Popoli, Florence, 2012
55th DOK Leipzig, 2012
Doc Buenos Aires, 2012
Festival du Film Locarno, 2012
Visions du Réel, Nyon, 2012