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August 19th, 2004
Sahara Marathon

While the Olympics are underway in Greece this summer, WIDE ANGLE presents the story of a unique marathon that is staged annually — in one of the world’s most punishing deserts — in the hope of drawing attention to the plight of the Sahrawi people. Torn by years of bitter guerilla warfare fought against Morocco’s annexation of Western Sahara in 1976, the Sahrawi are still waiting for the referendum on sovereignty promised in a UN-brokered cease-fire over a decade ago. The story focuses on two competitors — Abdullah, a Sahrawi self-trained runner determined to win the race for his people, and Jorge Aubeso, a top Spanish athlete sympathetic to the cause — who race through brutal heat and infamous sirocco sandstorms with winds up to 60 mph. The filmmakers — one of only two media crews covering the event — have full access to this unusual race and to the all-but-forgotten story of 165,000 people who sense that the global spotlight is no longer theirs and fear that their problem may never be resolved without a return to armed conflict. This poignant story is representative of the aspirations of small, forgotten minorities throughout the world.

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