A subject: a human being

Monday 31 August 2009

Dan Fallshaw and Violeta Ayala An Australian documentary that premiered at the Sydney Film Festival in July has ignited a controversy with its claims on slavery in the refugee camps of western Sahara. The protagonist has denounced the film for portraying her as a slave. The 80-minute film, by Sydney-based Violeta Ayala and Dan Fallshaw, is set in refugee camps in south-west Algeria, where 160,000 Saharawi people have lived since the 1975 Moroccan invasion. It features the story of Fetim Sellami and her family, who live in a refugee camp.

"We wanted to highlight the refugees' struggle through one family's story. We did not set out to make a film about slavery. It was only disclosed to us after three trips and two months in the camps," said the filmmakers. But the subjects of the film are scathing in their criticism of this documentary. "The film has affected my community," Sellami told IPS news agency.

The filmmakers are firm on their stance. "While filming, we discovered slavery existed. We want the story to speak for itself," Ayala said.

Move from news to views and get in-depth reports on issues that matter to you, every fortnight.
Subscribe now »

We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.

Scroll To Top