The Western Sahara is divided: Since 1989, a 2,400 km long wall of sand has separated the area occupied by Morocco from that which is controlled by the Polisario Front, a national liberation movement fighting for an independent state. Over a hundred thousand Sahrawi are living in exile in refugee camps in the Algerian desert – once nomads, now condemned to immobility. The situation and unresolved fate of the Sahrawi refugees have been forgotten by the world. Territoire perdu brings them quite literally back to light. Shot in Super8 and in black-and-white, the film works consciously with the contrast between light and shadow – modelling the bodies of Sahrawi, as it were. Faces, skin, wrinkles, scarves, cloth, sunglasses and the patterns of the soldiers’ uniforms coalesce on the visual level into grainy textures. From off camera, one hears fragments of life stories: about flight and persecution, about life in the camps, about Morocco’s repression, the longing for one’s own land, the relationship to the desert, grief over relatives who have disappeared, and resistance. The powerful wind is omnipresent, and the sound design amplifies the vastness of the space. A remarkable cinematographic form for a political topic.
by Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd
France / Belgium 2011