Life Is Waiting: Referendum and Resistance in Western Sahara

Film Screening and Discussion Thu 7 Apr 2016 6.30PM-8.30PM The New School, University Center
63 5th Avenue, Room UL 105
New York City

Free Admission.

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Forty years after its people were promised independence by the departing Spanish rulers, Western Sahara remains Africa's last colony, de facto occupied by Morocco since 1979. Life Is Waiting: Referendum and Resistance in Western Sahara, the award-winning documentary by veteran filmmaker and activist Iara Lee, chronicles life under occupation and is a moving testimony to the Sahrawis' ongoing struggle and persistent fight.

While a UN-brokered ceasefire put an end to armed hostilities in the territory in 1991, the Sahrawi people have continued to live under the Moroccan armed forces' oppressive occupation. Tens of thousands of Sahrawis have since fled to neighboring Algeria, where over 125,000 refugees still live in camps that were billed as temporary. In spite of these difficulties, a new movement, with youth at its center, is rising to challenge human rights abuses and to demand the long-promised referendum on independence. Life is Waiting documents the everyday violence experienced by Sahrawis and their struggle for self-determination through creative resistance and non-violence.

In the talk following the screening, film director Iara Lee and New School faculty members Eduardo González and Nitin Sawhney focus on truth and reconciliation processes, creative resistance, and on documentary filmmaking in relationship to the situation in Western Sahara.

Iara Lee is a filmmaker, activist, and the director of the Cultures of Resistance Network, a foundation that connects artists, activists, and educators alike in order to create a more peaceful global community. Lee has made several full-length documentaries and short films that cover a wide range of topics predominantly in the Middle East and surrounding regions. Much of her work focuses on creative resistance and non-violent action.

Eduardo González is a human rights consultant and sociologist, specialized in transitional justice. A Peruvian national, he participated in his country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, at the end of a twenty-year internal armed conflict. Later, as an expert, he contributed to the establishment and operations of truth and reconciliation processes in about 20 countries, providing technical and strategic advice. In addition to his expertise, he is an avid participant in policy debates on the intersection of human rights, democracy and peace as well as a creative researcher, educator and a lecturer at The New School.

Nitin Sawhney is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies at The New School. His current research, teaching and creative practice engages the critical role of technology, civic media, and artistic interventions in contested spaces. He examines social movements and crisis contexts, though forms of creative urban tactics, participatory research, performance and documentary film.