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Slavery in the Saharawi Refugee Camps ?
Miércoles, 20 de Junio de 2012 06:53
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"Robbed of Truth” Screening + Q&A: The Western Sahara Conflict and the Ethics of Documentary Filmmaking – 11 July 2012

OzDox is hosting the first screening of the film in Sydney. Following the film, Melbourne-based Walkley award winning journalist and filmmaker Carmela Baranowska will moderate an interview with L.A. based director, Carlos González, followed by Q&A with the audience.


The session will debate some of the thorny ethical issues involved in documentary filmmaking: What happens when the main subject of a film withdraws their consent? Should the filmmakers respect their decision? Should filmmakers proceed with the production and editing of a film if there are no release forms? What is the role of reconstructions in documentary? What is the relationship between fiction and non-fiction? What is the role of evidence and cross-examination of facts in documentary? Are criteria and standards different from journalism? Can eyewitnesses lie and how do filmmakers know and deal with this? Should testimony only be accepted if it is filmed to camera? Should the Screen Australia Indigenous protocols also be applied to Australian filmmakers working in third world countries?

Robbed of Truth is about Fetim Salam, a Saharawi refugee represented as a slave in the Australian documentary, Stolen (Directed by Violeta Ayala and Dan Fallshaw and produced by Violeta Ayala, Dan Fallshaw and Tom Zubrycki). The day the film premiered at the Sydney Film Festival on June 11, 2009, Fetim and her husband were flown to Australia by the Polisario Front, the independence movement that runs the Western Sahara refugee camps in Algeria, to confront the filmmakers and assert her right to withdraw from the film.  This dramatic act, with Fetim declaring: ‘I am not a slave!’ made front page news in Australia triggering a controversy which continues to this day.

Robbed of Truth filmmaker, Carlos González, alerted by alarmed Saharawi friends, travelled to the refugee camps in search of the truth.  He interviewed the alleged slaves, as well as aid workers and regular Saharawi citizens.  He flew to London and Paris to interview anthropologists familiar with the area.  He interviewed Australian journalist Bob Ellis and documentarian Philippe Mora, after both had seen Stolen and met the filmmakers at the Sydney Film Festival.  He interviewed Fetim’s sister and mother in the Moroccan occupied Western Sahara.

Violetta Ayala and Dan Fallshaw, Co-Directors, and Co-Producers (along with Tom Zubrycki) of the film, Stolen have been invited to participate in the Q&A via Skype (TBC).




Carlos González, a director and cinematographer, has worked on over 20 Hollywood features and 100s of hours of television. He also directed Children of the Clouds and was one of the original camera people on Stolen.  He is a member of the Directors Guild of America and the International Cinematographers Guild.

Carmela Baranowska’s credits include Scenes From an Occupation, Taliban Country and Lives on the Edge. She was awarded a Human Rights Scholarship from the University of Melbourne to research a PhD thesis on Filmmaking and Human Rights.