In Pictures: Cannes of the desert

Exiled Saharawi refugees got the chance to rub shoulders with international filmmakers deep in the Algerian desert.

Stefan Simanowitz |

As the great and the good of the world’s film industry descended on Cannes, earlier this month a very different film festival was coming to a climax deep in the Sahara desert.

Far from the red-carpeted Mediterranean opulence of the Croisette, the Sahara International film festival, known as FiSahara, took place in a sun-baked refugee camp deep in the Algerian desert. What it may have lacked in glittering VIP premieres and champagne-fuelled yacht parties, FiSahara made up for in spades with dune parties, camel races and multiplex-sized screenings beneath the stars.

Now in its eleventh year, the FiSahara film festival attracted over 300 international actors, screen-writers and cinephiles, alongside thousands of Saharawi refugees exiled from their native Western Sahara for nearly four decades.