The short story goes… On October 10, 1947, the African rail workers of the French colonies in West Africa went on strike for 5 months. The main focus of the strike was Thiès, a railway junction in Senegal that served the rest of the continent. The railway’s European managers sternly ordered the local workers back but they refused – their key demand being the same rights as white workers. Their strike marks the beginning of decolonization.
Frenchman Olivier Langlois’ feature film Les Pirogues Des Hautes Terres (Sand’s Train) recounts the above tale via the love story between the strike leader, and a brilliant, but poor student, and that of a French doctor who discovers that “equality” and “fraternity” don’t exist in French West Africa.
The film debuted earlier this year, in France, at the Biarritz International Festival in France. It’s been touring the international film festival circuit since then, with a stop at the Montreal World Film Festival this month, next.
Shot entirely in Senegal, the film stars Robinson Stevenin, Claire Simba, Pascale Arbillot, Oumar Diow, Antoine Chappey, and Pascal Elso.
Watch its teaser below: