To see El Aaiun (Videti El Aaiun)

Nominated for

Best Humanitarian Award

Directed by

Erik Valenčič

52' • Slovenia • 2020

The film takes us to the refugee camps set in the depths of the Algerian desert, where the Saharawi people have been dwelling in miserable conditions for over 40 years. In 1975, the Spanish colonisers left their homeland Western Sahara, however their territory was invaded by Morocco and Mauritania soon after. Until today Western Sahara remains a disputed territory. Camps turned into settlements, named after towns in Western Sahara. One of them is called El Aaiun. Inside the camps, there are rows of dusty houses, tents and streets, the scene mostly devoid of people. The sun is at its highest point and it feels blistering hot with the sound of the desert in the back. Two Slovenian photographers enter the scene and set up their portable studio in one of the camps. The refugees have their portraits taken. They are chosen from different generations and social backgrounds. They speak of struggles against the colonial rule, fighting against the invading forces, war crimes, setting up the camps, their eternal exile in Algeria and of situation they face today. Testimonies are entwined with footage showing the daily lives of Saharawi people, and their endeavours to maintain their cultural identity. The film ends in one of Ljubljana’s galleries with the exhibition of the Saharawi’s portraits. As the camera focuses on one of the portraits we are still able to hear their voices: “We wish you could understand the tragedy that is our life”.