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FiSahara International Film Festival Screen of the desert

IT IS a miracle that anything can happen in the scorched patch of the Sahara known as "the devil's garden"—let alone an international film festival. The sandstorms are so intense they can topple the festival tents, forcing locals to run and hide in cement toilet blocks. The sun is so hot it can melt a solar charger as temperatures soar to 50 degrees.
This is Dakhla, a camp in the Algerian desert for 30,000 refugees forced out of Western Sahara 40 years ago. It takes almost 24 hours to get there from Madrid. FiSahara, the Spanish NGO that organises the festival, arranges charter flights to the western Algerian town of Tindouf. From there an army-escorted convoy of buses bumps for 100 miles across the wilderness until it reaches a tiny spot of light.
Maria Carrion, a director of FiSahara, describes the festival as a "Trojan horse" that brings leading figures from the worlds of film and human rights to hear the story of the Sahrawis—the people of Western Sahara—and then sends them home to fight for the cause. It attracts Hollywood stars such as Javier Bardem, a Spanish actor who called the festival "little short of a miracle" and made a film about the plight of the Sahrawis called "Children of the Clouds".
The Sahrawis had no sooner pushed the Spanish from the territory in 1975 than the Moroccans came in. In 1991 the Sahrawis laid down their guns in exchange for a referendum that the United Nations was meant to broker. But thanks to a sequence of disagreements it has not yet taken place, and 14 years later, they are still practising peaceful resistance in the Algerian refugee camps and the eastern strip of Western Sahara that they control. This is separated from the larger, Moroccan-controlled part by a lengthy, fortified wall that the Moroccans built to keep them out. They are trying to get the world's attention through what Khadija Hamdi, their culture minister, calls a "cultural war" with Morocco.

read more: economist 
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