3 Stolen Cameras breaks Morocco’s information blockade over Western Sahara

RåFILM and Equipe Media’s short documentary 3 Stolen Cameras has been shown around the world during a year now. The world premiere, censored in Lebanon after pressure from Moroccos goverment, helped to spread the film in liberal democracies. However the censorship was a clear signal to countries allied with Morocco, that the information blockade Morocco holds on Western Sahara, should be supported in the Arab world.

Despite this, we have managed to spread the film and show whats happening on the ground in the occupied territories in the region. The film was broadcasted in the beginning of the year on BBC Arabic. across 27 countries including Morocco, occupied Western Sahara and Lebanon. In response, Morocco’s Embassy in London called for a meeting with the BBC channel manager.

At the beginning of the summer, the film was showed at the Documentarist film festival in Istanbul, Turkey. After the screening, the festival was contacted by Moroccan authorities. After this there has been an attempt to stop the film from being shown at the Slemani International Film Festival in Kurdish Iraq where the Iraqi ambassador in Morocco wanted the festival to remove the film from the program. Instead, the film won the best international documentary prize and the Iraqi ambassador was called to the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to receive a protest. In Moroccan press, the situation was described as a diplomatic crisis.

In late November, the film also received a prize in Colombia at the Medellín International Short Film Festival for best international documentary. The same day we received this news, the price was described in Moroccan press as a betrayal of an allied nation to Morocco. They also wrote that the film is used as a hidden diplomatic tool by saharawis. The same week, the film was shown in Palestine at the Red Carpet Film Festival focusing on human rights. This was described as a historical event from Western Sahara activists in Spain who been supporting us in the distribution of the film, since no films about Western Sahara have been screened there before.

However, the repression in the occupied area remains. The military broke in to Equipe Media’s member Mohamed Mayara’s house and interrogated his family in November and also pressured the neighbors to isolate the family. Nazha El Khalidi, aslo a member of Equipe Media, was arrested in early December when she filmed a manifestation and got her cellphone seized. She was held 4 hours.
In connection with this, her testimony disappeared on Facebook inexplicably. The testimony is a part of a campaign made by our partner video collective Saharawi Voice, based in the refugee camps. The campaign is called Time to Talk and is aimed at putting focus on the negotiations between Polisario (Western Saharas government in exile) and the Moroccan Kingdom. The objective is the referendum on independence that the failed UN’s mission has been trying to orchestrate since 1991.

In the Swedish parliament there is a majority who wants to recognize Western Sahara, yet the government has bowed to economic profit and Morocco’s pressure instead of supporting an occupied people.

Would you like to know more about the situation in Western Sahara, we would like to recommend Demoracy Nows reportage trip:

If you want to see 3 Stolen Cameras, it’s available at Cineasterna for those who have a library connected to the service.
The movie will be released online 2019. More info on the film on website www.3stolencameras.com.

Feel free to share the Saharawi Voice campaign #Timetotalk by following them on Facebook and keeping yourself updated about Western Sahara.

And for Equipe Media check their website here.