South Africa is participating in the 11th edition of the International Film Festival in Western Sahara (FiSahara) which kicked off on Wednesday in the Wilaya of Dakhla, Sahrawi refugee camps.
The festival, held under the theme "cinema for human rights in Western Sahara", is being attended by 300 international participants from different countries including filmmakers, directors, human rights activists and people in solidarity with the Saharawi people.
The festival aims to both raise awareness of the plight of the refugees, displaced from their native Western Sahara for nearly four decades by an unlawful occupation, and to empower them to tell their own story through film by leaving a lasting legacy of film-making skills and equipment in the camps.
During the festival, which lasts until May 4, many films of filmmakers from different countries around the world will be screened including some Arab countries as Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Mauritania, Morocco and Palestine.
According to the Department of Arts and Culture, the South Africa has been held in high regard at this year's festival, which will hold a special tribute to the late former President Nelson Mandela with specially chosen films, workshops and a performance by legendary South African musician Jonas Mosa Gwangwa.
"Fittingly Nelson Mandela showed great solidarity with the Saharawi whose struggle he described as one "to achieve the freedom and self-determination that are rightfully theirs"," said the department.
South Africa has been declared a "Country of Honour" in recognition of its 20 Years Freedom and of Democracy celebrations.
The department has been participating in the festival for six years in succession since 2009 and it has coordinated and facilitated the participation of a number of local filmmakers.
"Our participation is informed by the strong political and cultural ties between the two countries, due to South Africa's stance and principled support for the Western Sahara cause for self-determination."