Sahara International Film Festival

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Sahara International Film Festival
Festival de Cine del Sáhara
الصحراء السينمائي الدولي
LocationWilaya of Dakhla, Sahrawi refugee camps, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic / Algeria
FoundedNovember 2003
AwardsWhite Camel
(in Spanish)
The Spanish actress Verónica Forqué at the 2007 edition festival.

The Sahara International Film Festival, also known as FiSahara, is an annual event which takes place in the Sahrawi refugee camps, at the South West corner of Algeria, near the border with Western Sahara. It is the only film festival in the world taking place in a refugee camp.[1] The first three years the festival was held alternately in the Wilaya of Smara, Wilaya of Ausserd and Wilaya of El Aaiun, but since 2007 the FiSahara had stayed in the Wilaya of Dakhla. The event is backed by the Polisario Front,[2] but largely organised and funded by donors from Spain, the former colonial power in Western Sahara, attracting support from Spanish film celebrities as Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Pedro Almodóvar.[3] This Festival is an initiative to bring film as an entertainment and cultural form to the thousands of Sahrawis whose community has lived for more than thirty years in relative isolation in the Algerian desert, being the only film festival in the world taking place in a refugee camp. The first festival was in large part organised by Peruvian film director Javier Corcuera.[2]

The festival has the two-fold aim of providing cultural entertainment and educational opportunities to refugees, and of raising awareness of the plight of the Sahrawi people, who have been exiled from their native Western Sahara for more than three decades. Western Sahara, “Africa’s last colony,” was given to Morocco and Mauritania by the Spanish when they withdrew in 1976. The Moroccans subsequently annexed the entire territory in 1979, in defiance of a ruling from the International Court of Justice. A sixteen-year war ensued between the Moroccans and the native Sahrawi independence movement, the Polisario Front. Under the terms of a 1991 UN ceasefire agreement, a referendum for self-determination was promised, but has been blocked by Morocco. In the meantime an estimated 165,000 refugees continue to live in four large camps in the inhospitable Algerian desert.

Home to around 30,000 refugees, Dakhla is the most remote of the camps, located 175 km away from the nearest city, Tindouf.[4] It has no electricity or paved roads and is dependent on outside supplies of food and water.[5]

Musicians like Fermín Muguruza,[6][7] Manu Chao,[1] Macaco,[8] Iván Ferreiro,[9] El Chojin[10] or Tomasito[11] had also performed in concerts during the festival.

In 2010, a twinning agreement was signed between the FiSahara and the San Sebastian Human Rights Film Festival.[12]

White Camel Winners[edit]

The White Camel (Arabic: الجمل الأبيض‎) is the festival's highest prize, awarded for the best film by election of the spectators.[13] It consists on a white female camel, which is traditionally donated to the refugee family who had hosted the actors or director of the winner film during the festival. Instead, the winners take home a trophy depicting a white camel and a desert rose.

Year Date Film Nationality Director
2003 20–23 November The Living Forest  Spain Ángel de la Cruz
Manolo Gómez
2004 December (Not Held) N/A N/A N/A
2005 3–6 March Madame Brouette  Senegal
Moussa Sene Absa
2006 5–9 April The Story of the Weeping Camel  Mongolia
Byambasuren Davaa
Luigi Farloni
2007 10–15 April Azur & Asmar: The Princes' Quest  France
Michel Ocelot
2008 17–20 April It's a Free World...  United Kingdom Ken Loach
2009 5–10 May Che: Part 2  United States
Steven Soderbergh
2010 26 April-2 May The Problem  Spain Jordi Ferrer
Pablo Vidal
2011 2–8 May Entrelobos  Spain
Gerardo Olivares
2012 1–6 May Sons of the Clouds: The Last Colony  Spain Alvaro Longoria
2013 8–13 October Mayibuye I  South Africa Milly Moabl
2014 29 April–4 May Legna: Habla el Verso Saharaui[14]  Sahrawi Republic
Juan Robles
Bahia Awah
Juan Carlos Gimeno
2015 28 April-3 May Granito: How to Nail a Dictator  United States Pamela Yates

Guest Country

Since 2006, some years the festival elect a country to be guest in the event. In such cases, films from the guest country are screened and related events take place along the other acts in the festival.

Year Guest Country/Continent
2006  Cuba[15][16]
2009  Algeria[17][18]
2010  South Africa[19][20]
2011  Venezuela[21][22]
2012  Mexico[23][24]
2013  United States[25]
2014  South Africa[26]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Comienza 'Fisahara 2008', el único festival de cine en un campo de refugiados El Mundo, 18 April 2008 (in Spanish)
  2. ^ a b Roape Article
  3. ^ Holly Meadows (11 April 2012). "FiSahara: The World's Most Remote Film Festival". Africa Geographic. Archived from the original on 30 April 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  4. ^ Stefan Simanowitz (13 May 2010). "FiSahara: Film Festival in the Desert". The Guardian.
  5. ^ The Riddle of the Sands: How a refugee camps set up an international film festival Stefan Simanowitz, The Independent, 15 May 2009
  6. ^ Me gusta el Sáhara, me gustas tú Archived 2013-10-12 at the Wayback Machine Cine entre las dunas – El País, 23 April 2008 (in Spanish)
  7. ^ Festival Internacional de Cine del Sahara (FiSahara) 2009 (in Spanish)
  8. ^ Macaco actuará en la clausura del VI Festival Internacional de Cine Del Sahara (FiSAHARA) Archived 2013-07-04 at the Wayback Machine, 7 May 2009 (in Spanish)
  9. ^ Ivan Ferreiro corona el desierto El Mundo, 3 May 2010 (in Spanish)
  10. ^ El Chojin en FISAHARA 2011, 12 April 2011 (in Spanish)
  11. ^ El Canijo de Jerez y Tomasito en el Festival de Cine del Sahara, 1 May 2012 (in Spanish)
  12. ^ Objective Fisahara: Twinning between the San Sebastian Human Rights Film Festival and the Sahara International Film Festival, seen in pictures and first-hand accounts Archived 2013-10-11 at
  13. ^ Additional festival events
  14. ^ ""Legna" film wins first award of FiSahara". Sahara Press Service. 4 May 2014. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  15. ^ Cuba: país invitado en el III Festival Internacional de Cine del Sahara (in Spanish)
  16. ^ Cuba será el país invitado en el III Festival Internacional de Cine del Sahara, 13 March 2006 (in Spanish)
  17. ^ Arranca FiSahara 09, 23 March 2009 (in Spanish)
  18. ^ FISAHARA 09 Archived 2014-03-27 at the Wayback Machine Vivir bien es un placer!!! (¡Hola!), 21 April 2009 (in Spanish)
  19. ^ El FCAT con el pueblo saharaui en el FiSahara 2010 Archived 2012-07-08 at the Wayback Machine African Film Festival of Tarifa (in Spanish)
  20. ^ FiSahara, el festival de cine que se celebra en un campamento de refugiados 20 minutos, 12 April 2010 (in Spanish)
  21. ^ Concluye el FiSahara 2011: entre el cine y la reivindicación Archived 2014-04-13 at the Wayback Machine Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 9 May 2011 (in Spanish)
  22. ^ FiSahara: cine bajo las estrellas ABC, 4 May 2011 (in Spanish)
  23. ^ "No conseguirán atemorizar al FiSahara" Público (EFE), 2 May 2012 (in Spanish)
  24. ^ La delegación de México en el FiSahara afirma su determinación de romper el silencio informativo en el Sáhara Occidental Archived 2014-04-13 at the Wayback Machine Sahara Press Service, 3 May 2012 (in Spanish)
  25. ^ Decade after: FiSahara achieved international status, confirms Saharawi Culture Minister Archived 2014-04-13 at the Wayback Machine Sahara Press Service, 10 July 2013
  26. ^ South Africa guest of honor of FiSahara 2014 and Nelson Mandela honored in the occasion SADR Permanent Mission in Ethiopia and African Union, 9 April 2014