All the colours of Wilaya
17/02/2012 - The fourth feature film by the Spanish director Pedro Pérez Rosado (whose previous outings include La Mala and Agua con sal), Wilaya [trailer] would feel more like an ethnographic documentary than a drama if it were not for carefully controlled, glorious cinemascope shots of the Sahara.
At the beginning of Wilaya (which means ‘province’) the captions inform us that the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic occupying Western Sahara used to be a Spanish colony, after which it was practically given away to Morocco. It is populated by around 150,000 Sahrawi people without passports and recognized as a country only by some 50 nations, mostly African.
A young woman called Fatimetu (Nadhira Mohamed) set off to live in Spain when she was ten and now, after her mother’s death, returns to the Sahrawi refugee camp in Algeria to visit her family, which includes sister Hayat (Memona Mohamed) who teaches mentally disabled children, and herself has a physical disability, and brother Jatri (Ahmed Molud) with his pregnant wife Aichetu (Lasria Gasem Mohamed).
Now that she’s there, Jatri expects her to stay and help Hayat and Aichetu. Though Fatimetu had different plans, namely a boyfriend back home, the relationship seems to not really be working out and she stays and buys a jeep to be able to work- transporting goods across the desert with Hayat in tow. A young man named Said (Ainina Sidameg) falls for the Westernized woman, the only one in the film not wearing a hijab.
However, there is little drama in these events. Rosado has some affection for his characters, but mostly stays detached as he films the colours of the desert - all the shades of sand and sky and lively outfits and living quarters of its inhabitants.There is some light humour regarding the importance of a fridge in Sahara and Said’s incompetent advances towards Fatimetu. He has another motive to want to marry her - his father is in Spain and he wants to find him.
Arabic-inspired music by Aziza Brahim and perfectly balanced cinematography by Óscar Durán create a stunning background for the depiction of the slow rhythm-of-the-desert way of living, but this is where the film stays, not going any further into potential political or emotional aspects of the story.
Produced by Wanda Vision S.A., Wilaya is handled internationally by 6Sales.