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Sankara's Orphans

A film by Géraldine Berger

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Thomas Sankara came to power in Burkina Faso in 1983, with the promise of a revolutionary government that would transform the West African country. To help build the revolution, he sent 600 children — many orphans from rural areas — to be educated in Cuba. But after Sankara’s assassination, the children were stranded. The last would only return to Burkina Faso in 2005.

SANKARA’S ORPHANS tells their stories through interviews with some of the 600, along with archival footage of their lives on Cuba’s Isle of Youth — where both Sankara and Fidel Castro came to visit. Along with their education, the children worked in the fields and received weapons training. This, combined with their idealism, frightened the new Burkina Faso regime, which worried they might return and take up arms.

When they finally return home, it is to an underdeveloped country not interested in their skills. An ob/gyn is shocked at the state of the country’s hospitals, and regrets having to work at a for-profit clinic after hours to make ends meet. A geologist helps oversee work at a gold mine, while an agronomist scrambles to make a living on a desolate agricultural property. “We were the revolution's spare parts,” he says. And when the revolution is over, nobody cares about the spare parts. Nearly 30 years on, the group remains in touch, finding community in their shared experience.

“A moving film, overwhelming in truth, sincerity and fraternity.” —TV5 Monde

Cannes International Pan African Film Festival 2019
Amiens International Film Festival 2019
Jury Prize, International Film Festival of Pessac 2019
FESPACO 2019
Rasnov Film and Histories Festival 2020
Grand Prize for Long Form Documentary, Cotonou International Digital Cinema Festival 2020

84 minutes / Color
French; Spanish / English subtitles
Release: 2022
Copyright: 2018

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

Subject areas:
Africa, Cuba, Cultural Anthropology, Social Movements, Cold War Era

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