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FiSahara Film Festival (INFO IN ENGLISH)

What is the FiSahara Film Festival?

The FiSahara is the most remote and the most remarkable film festival in the world. Now in its 10th year, it is a non-commercial, non-competitive festival which takes place in a refugee camp in the Algerian desert. Each year hundreds of actors, directors and film industry insiders from around the world  join the Saharawi refugees for a week-long gala of screenings, parallel activities and concerts deep in the Sahara desert.  

The film festival provides entertainment and educational opportunities to the refugees and a unique cultural celebration for visitors. Through the attendance and support of renowned people such as Javier Bardem, Pedro Almodovar, Ken Loach, and Penelope Cruz, the festival serves to raise awareness of the situation of the forgotten refugees, exiled from their native Western Sahara for over three decades by an unlawful occupation.

The festival’s programme has steadily expanded over the years and FiSahara 2013 boasts over 15 films from around the world. Many of the films reflect themes of hope and struggle but there are also comedies,  short films, animations and documentaries, some made by the refugees themselves.


The mission of the festival is:

  • to deliver a unique cultural, educational and entertainment experience  to the Sahrawi refugees.
  • to raise international awareness of the refugee’s situation in the international community.
  • to enable the Saharawi to tell their own story through film by leaving a lasting legacy of skills and equipment in the camps.


Where is FiSahara held?

The festival takes place in the unlikely setting of Dakhla, the remotest of four refugee camps in south western Algeria. Dakhla is clean and well-organised, with wide sandy streets lined with rectangular houses and tents forming neat family compounds. Visitors stay with the refugee families where they experience the warmth and hospitality for which the Saharawi are famed.

The festival site is in a spacious area in the centre of the camp, with its focal point a multiplex-sized outdoor screen attached to the side of an articulated lorry. The screen is in an open courtyard with space for 300 people seated on mats in the sand, surrounded by tents, exhibitions and indoor screenings as well as stalls and cafés.


Who are the refugees and why are they there?

Around 165,000 Saharawi refugees live in the camps. Originally from Western Sahara — effectively Africa’s last colony — they fled to the camps to avoid fighting that erupted after the Spanish colonial powers divided the territory between Morocco and Mauritania 1976. The 15 year war broke between the Saharawi independence movement, the Polisario Front, and the Moroccan occupying armies ended in 1991 with a UN ceasefire agreement under whose terms a referendum for self-determination was promised. Twenty years later and despite efforts by the international community, including over 100 UN resolutions, the referendum has not taken place. Over half the Saharawi population continue to live in exile in the inhospitable Algerian desert, separated from their homeland by a 2,500 km fortified barrier known as ‘the Berm’. It is against the backdrop of this political crisis and the resulting human suffering that FISahara takes place.

Why is FiSahara held?

Film screenings might be seen as an unusual luxury for refugees who are entirely dependent on external aid for most of their basic needs but the film festival organisers believe that providing the refugees with cultural, educational and entertainment opportunities is very important.

But beyond the festival, the new permanent opportunities for audiovisual training are being created. Each camp is being equipped with DVD libraries, video projectors, sound equipment, screens and DVD recorders. Video technicians have been trained to look after each library, and a new Film School opened in a neighbouring camp last year.



Find out more

The programme will include:

  • film screenings, cultural events, and tours;
  • a Dune Party and a musical concert
  • a camel race and football match

Visitors can either come for 6 days (7th October – 13th October).

Flight leave from Madrid and the cost (including flights, transport, accommodation, food etc.) is approximately 700 Euros.


Read more

Guardian -

New York Times

Independent -

Film Festival Yearbook -