Media Room

Shedding light on the Saharawi plight


Films have and continue to play a vital role in shedding light on the largely unknown Saharawi story. The telling of it, however, has been dominated by outside perspectives. Thanks to mobile phone technology and efforts to develop filmmaking capacity in the refugee camps, more films are now being made by Saharawis. The creation of the National Saharawi Film School, in camp Boujdour, with the support of the FiSahara festival, has been important for the emergence of a Saharawi cinema scene, in recent years. Here we celebrate this exciting trend of Saharawis filming, narrating, editing, sharing and archiving human rights videos to tell their story, in their own voices.

For those interested in the history of filmmaking about the Western Sahara, we've compiled here a listing of the films we are aware of that exist. These reflect different genres, angles and periods. It is by no means exhaustive, so if anyone is aware of other films that are not found here, please email us at to let us know. Anyone interested in doing a film event on Western Sahara is also encouraged to contact us for ideas and support.  

About FiSahara Festival

FiSahara (Western Sahara International Film Festival) is an annual human rights film and cultural festival celebrated in the Saharawi refugee camps. It is one of the world’s most remote film festivals and the only one taking place in refugee camps, bringing together the Sahrawi population with international filmmakers and other visitors. Learn more about the festival on their website
You Can't Get
There From Here
2021Peter Shields &
Daniel Petkoff
90mins. In 2018, filmmakers Daniel Petkoff and Peter Shields set out to cross the Sahara desert to deliver prosthetic limbs to the amputee unit at the Banjul hospital in Gambia. The film tells the story of a journey that starts from Plymouth and takes the filmmakers across Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania to reach The Gambia. While travelling through Western Sahara they meet underground Saharawi activists living under Morocco’s occupation there.Trailer:
Sandtracks2021Carolina Graterol22mins. An intimate look into Sandblast founder Danielle Smith’s mission to bring the unknown struggle of the Saharawi people for self-determination to wider attention. Full film:
Ocupacion SA2020Laura Dauden (Forward Films)41 mins. “Ocupación S.A.” is the portrait of a betrayal. In a thorough and unprecedented approach, the documentary presents the names and surnames of the Spanish businesspeople and politicians involved in the economic exploitation of Western Sahara, the last colony in Africa and one of the most violent, militarized and censored territories in the world. Full film:
Looking for a Homeland: Saharawi refugees at the other side of the Moroccan wall2019
First Hand Films/Barbershop Episode 5
25min. Set in Smara refugee camp in SW Algeria, the interactions between barber and clients reveal the story of how the Saharawi of Western Sahara became refugees and touches on issues they face.Full film:
Three Stolen Cameras2017Equipe Media, Ra Film17mins. A Saharawi video activist group is struggling to keep their cameras in the occupied Western Sahara where the Moroccan authorities have managed to implement a near total media blockade.Full film:
Life is Waiting2015Iara Lee, Cultures of Resistance58mins. Highlights the role of the arts non -violent resistance in the Saharawi cause and chronicles the everyday violence of life under the Moroccan occupation, giving voice to the aspirations of a desert people for whom colonialism has never ended.
Full film:
The Sahara's forgotten war2014VICE news36mins.VICE News travels to Western Sahara's occupied and liberated territories, as well as the Polisario-run refugee camps in Algeria, to find out more about one of the world's least reported conflicts.Full film:
Poets of Protest- El Khadra: Poet of the Desert2012Artscape25mins. Al Khadra is a renowned Sahrawi war poetess living in the Al-Auin camp in the Algerian desert. A vivid testament to several decades of the Sahara conflict, we see how she keeps her oral poetry alive and tries to pass on her activism to the next generation.Full film:
Aadat (traditions)2004Xisela Franco & Noé Rodríguez22min. In the reign of the inert; where the landscape is arid and dead and only infinite extensions of sand and stone exist; there are people who build their lives with their will. Forgotten, unheard, doomed to the most extreme and harsh survival conditions, the Saharawi people still hope for justice to be done.

Full film:
Beat of Distant Hearts: the art of Revolution in Western Sahara1999Danielle Smith45mins. Through the lives and works of poets, singers and painters, award-winning Beat of Distant Hearts explores the Saharawis’ collective experience of exile, loss and war and offers insight into how these art forms have played a role in the ongoing struggle.How to order:

A journey does not consist of the
path you take, but of what you bring back with you."

- Saharawi proverb
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