Back to IndieWire

Stop Slavery Now

Stop Slavery Now

Dear Sydney,

I wanted to let you know we’ve just launched a campaign to take the story of Stolen (ISA: Odin’s Eye) and slavery in Western Sahara to the world.

We would like your support in this campaign because we all know that slavery should be a thing of the past, a taboo that should come to light.

Violeta Ayala and Dan Fallshaw spent three years making Stolen and there is still so much to do to get the film out there. Unfortunately the film has faced a well organized political and media campaign to silence it and cover up the slavery.

Check it the campaign and please tell your friends, family and colleagues about it. If we all help we can bring this hidden taboo out into the open and give the black people living in the camps and Western Sahara and North Africa the chance to fight for their freedom.

We’re planning a cinema release of Stolen in N.Y. and L.A., and everyone’s invited. This will get the story covered in the major U.S. media and qualify the film for the Academy Awards 2012.

We’ve only got a short time to get this done, if we don’t do it by June we will miss this opportunity.

We need to pressure organisations like the UN to act.

Stolen has shown at more than 60 festivals worldwide, winning 12 awards along the way.

Take a look at the campaign page, and please support our work and most importantly tell others about it.

Thank you.
The Stolen Team

This Article is related to: Uncategorized and tagged , , , , ,


Violeta Ayala

To Metadel:
Does slavery exist in the refugee camps?

Attacking the translations in the film is a tactic of the Polisario to cast doubt over the film’s authenticity and to distract from the main issue of slavery. More than seventy per cent of the discussions about slavery are in Spanish, with the remainder being in Hassaniya. The issue of slavery was raised with us in Spanish over many conversations. That’s how we became aware of it. After criticism was directed at the film with regard to the translations, the dialogue in Hassaniya was scrutinised forensically and verified by the only officially recognised Hassaniya interpreter in Australia.

‘I am therefore particularly grateful to the journalists for allowing us to view the footage and to share it with Asim Turkawi my colleague on the Africa Programme responsible for Horn and East Africa with particular expertise on Sudan and also an Arab speaker and therefore able to verify the translation.’
Romana Cacchioli – Africa Programme Co-ordinator


Violeta Ayala


Some serious ethical concerns about Stolen:
INACCURATE SUBTITLES & VOICE OVER : the official translator of Stolen admitted that what is
in the film doesn’t reflect his translation:
more-fiction-than-fact-or-lost-in-translation/2009/07/12/1247337022664.html The translation is
seriously misleading in places, seemingly invented to suit the plot.
FACT OR FICTION? The Producer of Stolen admitted recently that there were some scenes
where re-enactments were shot in Australia, in Cronulla and out the back of Bondi Golf Club in
Sydney, yet they weren’t identified as re-enactments in the film:
CONSENT : the main subject Fetim Sellami, realised that she and her family were being manipulated
and their words were mistranslated and taken out of context. Feeling insulted and greatly hurt by the
allegation, she asked the filmmakers not to use her interviews. This was not done. None of the
participants has ever signed a release form.
REWARDS : Violeta Ayala, one of the directors of the film admitted, on ABC TV program 7.30
Report, giving money to the Saharawis who came to Mauritania. Three young men, who travelled to
Mauritania on a second visit, say they were paid 4000 Euros by 2 Moroccan agents who met them
through a meeting set up by the filmmakers.
MISUSE OF MATERIAL Instances include: using material without permission, use of interviews
without consent, misuse of an interview with a United Nations High Commission for Refugees staff
member, misuse of the US-based translator’s certificate. These are serious professional concerns.
A longer Critique of Stolen is available on internet for anyone wishing to make a serious study of the

Violeta Ayala

To the person who wrote the post above:
Does slavery exist in the refugee camps?

Please have a look at an extensive interview with the deputy director of UNHCR Ursula Aboubacar, in which she states several times that slavery is an issue in the refugee camps and in North Africa:

‘In sum, credible sources testified to HRW about vestiges of slavery that continue to affect the lives of a portion of the black minority in the Tindouf camps… The issue of slavery in the Tindouf camps deserves closer scrutiny than Human Rights Watch has been able to undertake.”
Eric Goldstein – Research Director in the Middle East and North Africa division

‘Asim and I are of the opinion that the practices described in the interviews are consistent with slavery as it is practised in neighbouring Mauritania and that the interviewees are credible… It is also a common practice for states to put pressure on victims to retract their statements.’
Romana Cacchioli – Africa Programme Co-ordinator

‘I have carefully reviewed the film Stolen with a view to assessing whether it is reasonable to accept the assertions of the film… It is my opinion that the film Stolen portrays a situation of enslavement within the refugee camps of the Western Sahara.’ Kevin Bales Director

Wouldn’t be better the Polisario and their supporters spend resources on developing policies that stop slavery rather than trying to cover it up? Only last week they took Fetim to a Human Rights Film Festival in Nantes, France, just as they did in Sydney in 2009, to deny the existence of slavery

If you want to know more about STOLEN please visit:


Violeta Ayala.


Stolen purports to be a sensational expose of current slavery in the Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria. These allegations are presented with a propaganda-like combination of mistranslation,
distortion, selective editing, unacknowledged re-enactments, blurring of facts and complete contempt for many international authorities such as the United Nations, Human
Rights Watch and Amnesty International. There are many serious issues related to this documentary film: concerns relating to the historical and current truth; copyrights; unethical conduct towards people appearing in the film who state they were betrayed or lied to by the film makers; consent and individual rights. Please see details here:

My response: Thank you for giving another view of this important issue. In the name of freedom all sides and opinions are necessary. That discussion and dialogue stay alive is most important.
Sydney Levine

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *