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Namibian Premiere: "Life is Waiting: Referendum and Resistance in Western Sahara"


InfoEntrance: 30 N$


Most people think that colonialism in Africa has ended. But in the territory of Western Sahara, the end of European rule only gave way to a new occupation, this time by Morocco. Four decades later, the world continues to look the other way as the Sahrawi people face arrests, torture, and disappearances for demanding their independence.

Life Is Waiting, a new film by director Iara Lee, chronicles this struggle. What will it take for the people of Western Sahara to reverse decades of broken promises and gain their freedom? What lessons does Sahrawi resistance offer for nonviolent movements around the world? In Life Is Waiting, join an incredible cast of Sahrawi activists and artists as they offer their answers.

Special Guest: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Right Honourable Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, MP. (tbc)

Some background on the film:
Four decades after its people were promised freedom by departing Spanish rulers, the Western Sahara remains Africa’s last colony. 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, and what peace exists in the area is fragile at best. Tens of thousands of Sahrawis have fled to neighboring Algeria, where over 125,000 refugees still live in camps that were intended to be 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 freedom. Today’s young generation is deploying creative nonviolent resistance for the cause of self-determination. In doing so, they've had to persevere against a torrent of conflicting forces. While risking torture and disappearance at the hands of Moroccan authorities, they're also pushing back against those who have lost patience with the international community and are ready to launch another guerrilla war.

The new film from director Iara Lee examines these tensions as it chronicles the everyday violence of life under occupation, giving voice to the aspirations of a desert people for whom colonialism has never ended.


About the film director
Iara Lee, a Brazilian of Korean descent, is an activist, filmmaker, and director of the Cultures of Resistance Network, a foundation that connects like-minded citizens seeking to build a more just and peaceful world through creative resistance and nonviolent action. It supports and collaborates with activists, agitators, educators, and artists around the globe.

The work of the Cultures of Resistance Network falls into five program areas. "Make Art Not War" centers on collaborating with innovative artists working to unleash the power of sound and image. "Sustainability Not War" supports groups that aim to promote issues of food sovereignty, aid, trade, and environmental sustainability. "Human Rights Not War" advocates for organizations that hope to increase human rights and legal justice worldwide. "Education Not War" creates educational opportunities for under-served populations of all ages. And our "Urgent Action” area connects concerned citizens to social justice campaigns, addressing issues such as indigenous rights, self-determination, environmental issues, and more.

As a filmmaker, Iara has released several full-length documentaries and dozens of short films over the past decade. In 2015, she completed two new documentaries: K2 AND THE INVISIBLE FOOTMEN, shot in stunning northern Pakistan, chronicles the plight of the indigenous porters of majestic K2, the earth’s second-highest peak. LIFE IS WAITING: Referendum and Resistance in Western Sahara looks at forty years of Moroccan occupation and the Sahrawi nonviolent struggle for self-determination by a people for whom colonialism has never ended. In 2013, Iara made a short film titled THE KALASHA AND THE CRESCENT, which chronicles how this indigenous minority in northern Pakistan responded to the challenges facing their culture. In 2012, she released a documentary called THE SUFFERING GRASSES: when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers, which examines the Syrian conflict through the humanity of the civilians who have been killed, abused, and displaced to the squalor of refugee camps. In 2010, she released the feature-length documentary CULTURES OF RESISTANCE, which explores how creative action contributes to conflict prevention and resolution.

In May 2010, Iara was a passenger on the MV Mavi Marmara, a vessel in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that was attacked in international waters by the Israeli navy, leading to the murder of nine humanitarian aid workers. Among the many people who recorded the events on that ship, her crew was the only one to successfully hide and retain most of the raid footage, which she later released to the world after a screening at the United Nations. Iara is dedicated to the support of Palestinian civilians who have been victims of war crimes committed by the Israeli military and who suffer from the Israeli government's ongoing acts of collective punishment.

At the onset of the Iraq war in 2003, Iara decided to live in the MENA region (Middle East & North Africa) in order to understand the conflict from that perspective. While residing in Lebanon in 2006, she experienced firsthand the 34-day Israeli bombardment of that country. Moved by that experience, she has since dedicated herself to the pursuit of a just peace in the region, and she is an enthusiastic supporter of those initiatives which strengthen adherence to international law. In 2008, Iara lived in Iran and supported a number of cultural exchange projects with the goal of promoting arts and culture for global solidarity.

From 1984 to 1989, Iara was the producer of the Sao Paulo International Film Festival in Brazil.

Technical Details
Director, Producer: Iara Lee
Co-Producer: Salah Abdelahe
Production Manager: Amelia White
Director of Photography: Jose Yeray Martin
2nd Camera: Eduardo Souto Fraguas
Editor: Martin Eller
Sound: Jordi Oriola Folch
Music: Mariem Hassan
Country of Production: Western Sahara/United States/Spain
Date of Production: April 2015
Original Format: HDCAM
Running Time: 59 mins
Number of Tapes/Discs: 1
Black and White or Color: Color
Screen Format: 16:9; DVD: SD 480p23.98; Quicktime file: HD 1080p23.98
Sound: Stereo
Genre: Documentary
Themes: Western Sahara, independence, self-determination, human rights, occupation, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, freedom, colonization in Africa

This AfricAvenir screening is supported by AfriCine, Turipamwe Design, Goethe Institut Namibia, and Independence Avenue Films.

Contact:  Hans-Christian Mahnke, director & chairperson of the board, 0855630949, africavenir.whk@googlemail.com

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