Objective Fisahara: Twinning between the San Sebastian Human Rights Film Festival and the Sahara International Film Festival, seen in pictures and first-hand accounts

The book gives an overview of the history of the Saharawi people and the efforts of FiSahara through articles by Javier Bardem, Javier Corcuera, Eduardo Galeano and Paul Laverty

Objective Fisahara takes a look at FiSahara, the world’s only film festival held in a refugee camp, now in its eighth year. FiSahara is a meeting place for promoting culture, human development and solidarity, a platform for airing demands and sentiments. It is also a place for raising awareness around the plight of the Saharawi people and their struggle to survive during 35 years of exile in Algeria. The book explores the friendship and solidarity between Donostia-San Sebastian and Bojador, in the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, sister cities since 1988 and three festivals: the San Sebastian International Film Festival, the Human Rights Film Festival and FiSahara.

The book Objective Fisahara contains the impressions, thoughts and perceptions of the people and organisations whose personal and professional involvement have made it possible for this festival-on-the-sand to promote understanding between people and serve as an instrument for denouncing injustice and violations of human rights such as those suffered by the Saharawis.  

Published by the San Sebastian chapter of the Association of Friends of the Saharan People and Masasam Espacios de Creación, Objective Fisahara is available in Basque, Spanish, French and English. The book includes contributions by San Sebastian mayor Juan Carlos Izagirre, organisers of the San Sebastian Human Rights Film Festival (San Sebastian Office of Human Rights and Donostia Kultura), director of Kutxa-Área Social Carlos Ruiz, actor Javier Bardem, director of FiSahara Javier Corcuera, Uruguyan writer Eduardo Galeano, filmmaker Paul Laverty, and by Mónica Santos and Sandra Maunac, curators of the photography exhibition “Objective Fisahara” and co-ordinators of the book. Objective Fisahara is launched within the framework of the San Sebastian International Film Festival as a gesture of support for FiSahara. Funding for the publication was provided by Kutxa-Department of Social Work and the San Sebastian City Council, with collaboration from the San Sebastian Office for the European Capital of Culture 2016.

San Sebastian and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic have taken one step further to reinforce their relationship of friendship and commitment to human rights with a new sister city pairing, this time through film. During the 2010 edition of the International Film Festival an agreement was signed to twin the San Sebastian Human Rights Film Festival and FiSahara.

Under the agreement, the San Sebastian Human Rights Film Festival, set to celebrate its tenth year in 2012, will advise, publicize and back FiSahara, not only on its programming and communications, but by helping to raise the international profile of exhibitions, films and news related to the Western Sahara and its festival. In this regard, the San Sebastian has contributed to the presence of FiSahara in the Human Rights Film Network (HRFN), an umbrella network for the leading human rights film festivals around the world, and whose only Spanish representative is the Sebastian festival.

The agreement also outlines provisions to support the Abidin Kaid Audiovisual Training Centre in the refugee camps, to help preserve and disseminate Saharawi culture, and to encourage the participation of Saharawi productions in film festivals at the camps and abroad. Efforts are also be made to foster the presence of Basque film actors and directors as a way to raise awareness and attract greater media attention. An example of this is the film El problema. Testimonio del pueblo saharaui (The Problem, Testimony of the Saharawi People) by Jordi Ferrer and Paco Vidal. The film was presented at the San Sebastian Human Rights Film Festival, where it landed the 2010 Amnesty International Human Rights Award. It was later shown at FiSahara, where it also took the festival’, top prize in 2010. The Festival du Cinema Espagnol in Nantes, partner to the San Sebastian Human Rights Film Festival, screened the film in its 21st edition (2011) as part of the festival’s section on Human Rights, with participation by the San Sebastian Town Council.

The ninth edition of the San Sebastian Human Rights Film Festival (2011) sponsored a series of traditional Saharan jaimas set up on Zurriola Beach to give the public an opportunity to learn about the history, customs, hospitality and struggle of the Saharan people through music, documentaries and exhibitions highlighting the links between Basques and Saharawis. One such programme was known as “Vacaciones en paz” (Holidays in Peace).

Imagen 2

Image gallery