On January 26, FiSahara announced the launch of most extensive online film database focusing on Western Sahara. Developed by the NGO Nomads HRC, this database collects films made by international filmmakers, journalists, activists, students, solidarity organizations and, more recently, by Sahrawis themselves as they pioneer a new art: Sahrawi cinematography.

Paul Laverty at FiSahara 2003 (Joss Barrat)

The Scottish screenwriter Paul Laverty, who join us in the first FiSahara edition in 2003, has shared with FiSahara his impression about this new film database:

Some 20 years ago we had the great privilege of travelling to the first FiSahara film festival which took place in the Sahrawi refugee camps in 2003.  We presented our film ‘Sweet Sixteen’ (directed by Ken Loach) under the Milky Way, out in the open.  The young team got the Arabic subtiltles finished some 15 minutes before the screening.

It was a stunning experience to share our world with theirs.  I often think of the children I met on that journey, now in their mid to late twenties, still stuck in the same camp.  What a betrayal by the international community, from the UN to the European Union, Spain, and of course Morocco. These brave principled people have been dumped and forgotten, and the promises made to them broken. But they continue to resist and fight for justice.

I hope this remarkable resource will be well used by film festivals and academic institutions”

It is very inspiring to learn of the Nomads HRC Film Catalogue. Even from a cursory glance at the titles you can sense the creativity and determination of these film-makers who will tell their own stories in their own voice. They sound vital and humane.  I hope this remarkable resource will be well used by film festivals and academic institutions, and much besides.  Sometimes you just have to marvel at the human spirit; just as you do at the Milky Way. 

Much solidarity and respect.