Films

Just To Let You Know That I’m Alive

Emanuela Zuccalà and Simona Ghizzoni
2013 | 64 min | Italy, Algeria, Saharwi Arab Democratic Republic
US Premiere | Director in Attendance

Just to Let You Know That I’m Alive gives a voice to the women of the Saharawi people, who have been subjected to some of the most severe and under-reported human rights abuses in the last thirty years. Degja Lachgare was taken from her home in 1980 and shuttled between prisons for eleven years, most of which she spent blindfolded. Soukaina Jid Ahloud spent nearly a decade of her life naked in a cell, where she watched her daughter die of starvation. Spending time with them in their houses and tents in the desert, director Emanuela Zuccalà was astonished by a rare peculiarity of these women: being able to speak about the terrible nightmares they have lived always preserving serenity in their eyes and a sincere hope in a better future.

MARGARET MEAD FILMMAKER AWARD CONTENDER

Past Forward, My Perspective

"The Saharawi people have a Bedouin and nomadic tradition that makes them very special, among other peoples in their geographic area. One of the elements we found most interesting and modern in this tradition is the role of women: in the past, they used to rule the home, the family and the whole society when men were grazing animals far away in the desert for long periods of time. Therefore, while men were fighting the war against Morocco (1975-1991), women laid the foundations of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic in exile in refugee camps in Algeria, building schools and hospitals and governing any aspect of the daily life. Even today, although the Saharawi community is deeply devoted to Islam, their women have absolute gender equality, they play important roles in politics and many of them are ambassadors of their people all over the world.

Nowadays, the Saharawis have become able to combine tradition and modernity. In Western Sahara, the international phone lines and the internet connection have been opened in 2002: since then, the youngs use the internet and social networks to spread the principles of their struggle for independence, to denounce the human rights violations in their territory and to communicate with the Saharawis who are refugees in Algeria. Thanks to modernity, they have succeeded in symbolically breaking the wall that separates Saharawis in Western Sahara from those living in the Algerian desert. And to them, the future is strongly rooted in their ancient and recent past, which has made the Saharawis a compact people despite all the adversities they had to face and the separation of the families imposed by the occupation."

- Emanuela Zuccalà | Director, Just To Let You Know That I’m Alive