Western Sahara, Lost Land

News from West­ern Sahara is rarely cov­ered by the inter­na­tion­al media. Every April, since the peace accord in 1991, the UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil man­date for orga­niz­ing a ref­er­en­dum to decide the future of West­ern Sahara is extend­ed for anoth­er year. But noth­ing ever hap­pens. The ref­er­en­dum is sab­o­taged by Moroc­co, over and over again. Moroc­co still con­trols two-thirds of the west­ern part of the coun­try, where the impor­tant phos­phate deposits are locat­ed, while the Polis­ario Front con­trols the less eco­nom­i­cal­ly impor­tant inte­ri­or. Rough­ly 180,000 refugees – the major­i­ty of the pop­u­la­tion – live in camps in south­ern Alge­ria, where they con­tin­ue to depend on relief sup­plied by the EU, the UN, and var­i­ous NGOs since their escape in 1976. There is no solu­tion in sight.

Lost Land
(Territoire perdu)

Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd
Belgium, France 2011 | 75 Min. | OmeU
The West­ern Sahara is divid­ed: Since 1989, a 2.400 km long wall of sand has sep­a­rat­ed the area occu­pied by Moroc­co from that which is con­trolled by the Polis­ario Front, … read more


Pedro Pérez Rosado
Spain, Western Sahara 2011 | 88 Min. | OmU

Fatime­tu is born to a Sahrawi family in a Saha­ran refugee camp in Alge­ria and later sent to live with foster par­ents in Spain. After the death of her mother she returns to the camp. She has been absent for six­teen years. Her broth­er now expects her to stay and look after her sister Hayat, who has dif­fi­cul-ty walk­ing. Fatime­tu, who unlike the other women can drive a car, finds work trans­port­ing ani­mals, meat and bread from one admin­is­tra­tive dis­trict to anoth­er. In time, the Sahrawi people become ac-cus­tomed to the woman who tears about the desert with­out a hijab in her beaten up jeep. But Fatime­tu is torn between life in the desert and her mem­o­ries of her family and friends in Spain. The Sahrawi are a Moor­ish ethnic group in Alge­ria that is still wait­ing for the ref­er­en­dum that will define their status un-der inter­na­tion­al law. Told in con­cen­trat­ed, poetic images, Pedro Pérez Rosado’s staged film does not only give us the story of two reunit­ed sis­ters or the clash of two dif­fer­ent cul­tures; he also allows his Saha­ran pro­tag­o­nists to describe in their own words their polit­i­cal and social predicament.