The FiSahara International Film Festival is an annual event held in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Southwestern Algeria, home to Sahrawi exiles who fled a Moroccan and Mauritanian military invasion of their homeland in 1975. FiSahara, a project of the Coordinadora Estatal de Asociaciones Solidarias con el Sáhara (CEAS-Sáhara) aims to empower and entertain Sahrawis through film and cultural resistance and to raise international awareness on a forgotten crisis. FiSahara’s human rights audiovisual workshops provide Sahrawi human rights defenders, video activists, and film students from the occupied territory and the camps with crucial skills in filming, editing, and sharing human rights materials. The workshops are a key advocacy tool for Sahrawis and an important way of informing international human rights organizations and media that have little access to the Morocco-occupied territory. The workshops also connect Sahrawi human rights defenders and their struggle with filmmakers, activists, and non-governmental organizations.
A 2016 grant from the Cultures of Resistance Network supported the participation of two Palestinians in the festival’s film and advocacy workshops. Osloob, a Palestinian hip-hop artist from the West Bank, helped conduct a Music as Resistance Workshop where young Sahrawis learned how to employ hip-hop as a vehicle for self-expression and resistance. Riham Ghazali, a Gazan filmmaker and member of the Sahshat Palestinian Women’s Film Festival, helped train women in Dakhla in the use of smartphones to make short films and tell stories about their lives.
A 2015 grant from the Cultures of Resistance Network supported audiovisual, culture, and communication workshops at the 2015 festival. The workshops aimed to provide refugees with media skills to tell their own stories, document their culture, and address pressing issues in their communities. For children and youth, the workshops provided creative storytelling outlets.
A 2014 grant from the Cultures of Resistance Network facilitated the participation of Arabic-speaking instructors at an intensive workshop for human rights video activists and defenders that took place at the Abidin Kaid Saleh Audiovisual School three weeks before the festival and continued during FiSahara 2014.
A 2013 grant from the Cultures of Resistance Network helped FiSahara purchase cameras, computers, and other essential gear for these workshops.
Women Make Movies served as a fiscal sponsor for this grant.