Stolen has won 14 awards around the world, from Best Documentary at the Pan African Film Festival in LA to the Grand Prix at the Art of the Document in Poland.
Probably the most controversial film screened this year at PAFF was the Australian doc “Stolen,” which, according to co-director Daniel Fallshaw, started out as a documentary about the plight of people in refugee camps as a result of the West Sahara liberation movement against Morocco led by the Polisario. But, in the process of filming, Fallshaw and co-director Violeta Ayala purportedly stumbled upon something quite unsettling: the existence of slavery in these resettlement centers, with some Blacks owned by Arabs in the camps. (Perhaps, as Regis Debray put it, “Revolution in the Revolution” is needed?) This turned the doc into a tale of intrigue, with the filmmakers becoming the story more than Michael Moore has in any of his docs, as the Polisario resistance movement, Moroccan agents, et al, are hot on the trail of the co-directors and their coveted videotapes. Following a PAFF screening, some attacked the film during an emotionally charged Q&A that was as dramatic as many of the festival’s films. Nevertheless, an undaunted PAFF awarded “Stolen” its Best Feature Documentary prize.
Grand Prix 2010 – Art of the Document Film Festival, Warsaw
For discovering and persistence in documenting an unknown subject and for showing the various depths of freedom.
Best Editing & Special Jury Mention 2010 – Doc NZ, Documentary Edge Film Festival
Best Documentary 2010 – Anchorage International Film Festival
WinnerStolen Violeta Ayala and Daniel Fallshaw (Australia/USA 2009)
Australian-based filmmakers Violeta Ayala and Dan Fallshaw originally set out to make a documentary about an under-reported land dispute in Northern Africa. Once they started shooting, however, they gradually stumbled on a story about modern slavery that has become hugely controversial. In 2007, Ayala and Fallshaw were drawn to the cause of the Polisario Liberation Front, which represents the Sahrawi people (meaning “people of the Sahara”), who have long struggled for control of the Western Sahara against the competing interests of Morocco and other factions. The two spent several weeks in a refugee camp controlled by the Polisario. Inside the camps, a complex hierarchy exists between the white Arabs and blacks, all of whom consider themselves Sahrawi. The filmmakers focused on a black woman in her thirties named Fetim Sellami, who is reunited with her mother through a United Nations programme. Sellami has a noticeably servile relationship to an older white woman named Deido. Upon further questioning, the filmmakers recorded persuasive testimony that a form of slavery continues to be practised. The existence of modern slavery has been detailed in books like Kevin Bales’s Disposable People, but rarely has it been covered on film as intimately as in Stolen. The Polisario staunchly maintains that it forbids slavery. When Ayala and Fallshaw raised the topic in the camps, they soon found themselves unwelcome. Fearing that their tapes would be seized, the filmmakers buried them in the desert and fled. Stolen turns into a tale of suspense and political intrigue as the filmmakers struggle to recover their tapes. Placing themselves in the story, Ayala and Fallshaw document their own moral quandaries. They include a statement by Sellami maintaining that she’s not a slave, contradicting what others say. The filmmakers don’t purport to have all the answers, but they do raise important questions. You can expect a heated discussion after each screening.
Best Documentary 2010 – Africa International Film Festival, Nigeria
Port-Harcourt was awash with stars of screen and television last month as they gathered for the long awaited maiden edition of the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF). The festival opened in grand style with the red carpet premiere of Andy Okoroafor’s movie “Relentless” at the Genesis Deluxe Cinema.
Nollywood and other Nigerian celebrities mixed it up with Bollywood stars and Hollywood’s Rockmond Dunbar and Malcolm Jamal-Warner, whilst the big wigs of Rivers State, led by the Governor, Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi and the First Lady Judith Amaechi, came out to showcase the State’s potential for entertainment, culture and tourism.
Best People’s Choice Award:
Working Girl by Nigel Trellis (Antigua+Barbuda)
URS by Montz Mayerhofer (Germany)
Best Short Film:
Pumzi by Wanuri Kahiu (Kenya)
Stolen by Daniel FallShaw (Australia)
Best Feature Film:
Soul Boy by Hawa Essuman (Kenya/Germany)
Best International Feature 2010 – Rincon International Film Festival, Puerto Rico
Silver Olive 2010 – XV International TV Festival Bar, Montenegro
The jury awarded the SILVER OLIVE for the documentary “Stolen” (Australia), directed by Violeta Ayala & Dan Fallshaw, produced by UNITED NOTIONS FILM, for the strength and courage the young authors showed in going beyond their initial purpose and exploring the terrible and unexpected topic of human slavery in North African territories in a beautiful film, for which they took enormous personal risk.
Best Film of The Festival 2010 – River’s Edge International Film Festival
Australian-based filmmakers Violeta Ayala and Dan Fallshaw originally set out to make a documentary about an under-reported land dispute in Northern Africa. Once they started shooting, however, they gradually stumbled on a story about modern slavery that has become hugely controversial.
Special Mention 2010 – Ojai Film Festival, California
Bronze Audience Award 2010 – Amnesty International Film Festival, Vancouver
The audience has spoken and it was very clear — Pray the Devil Back to Hell takes the Gold Audience Award with 99 percent of the audience rating it 5 out of 5. Not far behind for the Silver Audience Award are two films: Nero’s Guests and Kamenge, Northern Quarters. Right behind these two films is Stolen, which takes the Bronze Audience Award. Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to all the filmmakers who took such great personal and financial risks to make so many important human rights stories vividly available to our audience!