By Erin Hannon
The Modern Language Department’s Spanish Film Festival continued this week with a showing of the movie Wilaya.
Directed by Pedro Perez Rosado, Wilaya focuses on the issues faced by the refugees living in the Sahrawi camps, also known as wilayas. The camps began as a haven for people fleeing the destruction caused by the Western Sahara War, a conflict between the Sahrawi Indigenous POLISARIO Front and Morocco.
The struggle started when Spain began to pull its imperial forces out of the Western Sahara region, and POLISARIO and Moroccan forces began to fight over control of the land. Even though this conflict has come to a cease-fire, many refugees still remain.
Wilaya tells the story of two sisters and their struggles to survive and adjust life in their refugee camp. The older of the sisters, Fatimetu, or Fatima spent most of her life away from the camp and her family.
Like many people in the camp, Fatima’s parents sent her to Spain to receive a better education and give her hope for a better life. However, Fatima is forced to return to the camp after her mother’s death, and she struggles to adjust to her new life.
Fatima is now expected to help care for her disabled sister Hayat. Hayat has trouble walking, a handicap which is made worse by the inaccessibility of the camp where she has spent her whole life. She also struggles with feelings of inadequacy since she is unable to help her family.
As the two sisters learn to cooperate their lives begin to improve. Fatima and Hayat work together and begin earning money carrying goods and objects between different camps. This allows Fatima to gain a sense of freedom she missed since returning from Spain, while Hayat is happy to use her knowledge of the nearby locations to help her sister.
Wilaya was well received critically and was nominated for several prestigious international film awards including; the Goya Awards, the Malaga Film Festival, and the Luxor Egyptian & European Film Festival.
Wilaya is a very different movie from what most Americans are used to. Wilaya takes a much slower approach to the advancement of plot than movies from Hollywood. The actors created believable characters and caused the audience to feel compassionate for them.
RC’s film festival will continue on March 2 with 7 Cajas.