Wanda in the desert

Perez Rosado's drama is first Sahrawi pic

Spanish producer-distrib Wanda Films continues its focus on social issues with Panorama player “Wilaya.”

Pedro Perez Rosado’s drama, set in a Saharan refugee camp, is the first Sahrawi feature, according to Wanda CEO Jose Maria Morales. The Sahrawi are a Moorish ethnic group living in a disputed area of the western Sahara.

Pic tells the story of Fatimetu, a woman who returns to the province to attend her mother’s funeral after living in Spain for 16 years.

There, she meets her brother Jatri, who will soon be a father, and their disabled sister Hayat.

The clash between Sahawri and Western worlds is inevitable.

“We wanted to make a film that portrayed the Saharan conflict from a human point of view,” Morales said.

Backed by the Sahara Arab Democratic Republic Ministry of Culture, “Wilaya” has been fully financed by Wanda and Perez Rosado’s PRP.

“For 36 years, there (have been) more than 150,000 people living in a poor desert in South-West Algeria without legal recognition,” said Morales, adding “the film tells a simple story that could happen anywhere in the world.”

“Wilaya’s” cast is made up of non-professional Shawri actors to enhance the film’s naturalism, an effect Morales achieved in Spaniard Gerardo Olivares’ social-issue pics “The Great Match” and “14 Kilometers,” two Wanda productions.

Madrid-based 6 Sales apparently believes in the commercialy viability of the pic, taking international sales rights.

The Javier Bardem-produced Alvaro Longoria docu “Sons of the Clouds: The Last Colony,” also deals with the Sahawri crisis and is at Berlin.

“Berlin is once more on the cutting-edge in addressing this subject,” said Morales.

Wanda is now prepping Olivares’ next feature “El faro de las orcas,” this time with pro actors.

“Wilaya” opens May 11 in Spain.