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Solar Cinema Sahrawi

A solar powered mobile cinema brings film and workshops to the Western Sahara.

Photo of Maartje Piersma
15 11

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We plan to set up a Solar Cinema, mobile cinema powered by solar energy, in collaboration with the film festival FiSahara and The Abidin Kaid Saleh audiovisual school at the Dakhla refugee camp in Algeria. In order to provide Dakhla and the surrounding communities access to cinema, workshops and to promote the use of sustainable energy in the area, the year round. The filmschool will be locally responsible for the Solar Cinema and the production of the cinema shows and the workshops. The content will be decided upon amongst FiSahara, the filmschool and us, Solar World Cinema. The content will consist of independent cinema(fiction, shorts and documentaries) and an education program. We will provide content and all the (technical) knowledge of running a mobile cinema on solar energy. The Solar Cinema Sahrawi will be traveling around the area and supplying film and workshops to a broad area. The motto of Solar Cinema is to bring unseen films to unusual places. We strongly believe in the educational value of the image and storytelling trough culture. 

Solar World Cinema is based and founded in the Netherlands. 


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Photo of Dave Levin

I love this idea...I wonder if you are considering deployment in Za'atari Refugee Camp, a camp on the Jordanian border with Syria.

Photo of Chioma Ume

Hi Maartje! Thank you for sharing your idea with us – very inspiring! Our ideas phase begins on Tuesday, April 21st – and we'd love to for you and your team to contribute. Hope to see you then!

Photo of Maartje Piersma

Dear Chioma,
Thanks for your comment! We love to join the idea phase, we are preparing for our trip to the Western Sahara and hope to learn a lot more about the local circumstances soon. Do I contribute a new post tomorrow in order to enter the idea phase? thanks again!

Photo of Chioma Ume

Yes, once the Ideas phase begins tomorrow, you'll have to add your idea as a contribution. The phase is open until June 2nd – so you have some time to add it!

Photo of Shane Zhao

Maartje, love what your team is doing with Solar World Cinema! This project sparks us rethink how learning spaces can take place beyond traditional classroom settings. ie. outdoor communal spaces can be converted into classrooms. Storytelling through films can also be a effective way of making education more accessible to more people.

A great project to check out would be My Voice My School: Perhaps the student videos from this initiative can be broadcasted via Solar World Cinema?

Photo of Maartje Piersma

Thank you Shane for your suggestion!

Photo of Jason Rissman

Maartje, thanks for sharing what sounds like a fantastic program. I'd be really curious about lessons you've learned in setting up other cinemas that might be applicable to others interested in setting up educational initiatives in remote areas. Also, what are some of the guiding principles you use when selecting a location? What sorts of local stakeholders are needed to make programs successful? I'm sure you've learned a lot through your past work. We'd love to hear more!

Photo of Maartje Piersma

Dear Jason,
Thank you for your message. We work on demand, communities/foundations/companies/filmmakers approach us in order to set up a co-production Solar Cinema. Together we search for financing opportunities.

Photo of Maartje Piersma

Hi Anne-Laure,
Thanks for your questions. We will be organizing stop motion film workshops and workshops based around the theme of sustainable energy. In the Western Sahara we want to organize the workshop program in collaboration with the local filmschool. In two weeks we will travel to Dakhla refugeecamp to see what the possibilities are and to start planning.
Kind regards

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Maartje, thanks for sharing a wonderful initiative. As you seem to be in the process of setting up, I'm interested to know what you learnt: positive and challenges? You mention also workshops: what workshops do you have in mind? Who will be running them? Who is your audience? Children? Young adults? everyone?

Thanks and good luck!

Photo of Saad Hamid

I am also interested in learning about your learning and what content you think can be added to the program beyond just films? We did something similar in Islamabad, Pakistan but it was with TEDtalks. Do check out here

Photo of Maike Gericke

Great initiative Maartje!! Can you tell us a little more about the content of the education program that you are planning to run?

Photo of OpenIDEO

Congrats on this post being featured in this week's highlights!

Photo of Jeremie Faye

This is a great idea! I believe it would do a lot to lift the spirits of people who are experiencing difficult situations. I would give them a break from their daily lives and provide them with an opportunity to socialise and feel like they are part of a community.

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Super interesting. I've helped run a program in Latvia, where we addressed CSR topics by showing (Hollywood) movies on the topic, and have someone do a talk before the showing, to give some perspective. Your program is much more elaborate, but why I mention this, is that we worked together with the US Diplomatic Mission on this. One of the benefits of that, was that they had the rights to show the American made movies.

Anyway, great initiative and project!