Sahara Festival set to commence

N. African unrest unlikely to derail remote desert event

LONDON — The 8th Sahara Film Festival will go ahead May 2-8 at a refugee camp deep in the Algerian desert despite the turmoil that has engulfed north African countries in recent months.

The fest’s U.K. coordinator, Stefan Simanowitz, told Variety, “We are confident that any political upheavals in North Africa will have absolutely no affect on the smooth running of this festival, which takes place in Dakhla over 100 miles from the nearest town.”

Organized by Spanish filmmakers, FiSahara aims to provide cultural entertainment and educational opportunities to some of the 180,000 Sahrawi refugees living in the remote camps, as well as raising awareness of their plight.

The Sahrawis have been exiled from their native Western Sahara since 1975 when Spain withdrew from the region, selling it to Morocco and Mauritania.

The Dakhla camp will be transformed into a gala of screenings, workshops and concerts attended by directors and actors who in the past have included helmer Ken Loach and actor Javier Bardem.

Over 400 international participants are expected this year and more than 30 films will be screened including Rodrigo Cortes’ Iraq thriller, “Buried.”