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Shahira: Nomads of the Sahara

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Catalogue Number:  BF0005
Producer:  Bishari Films
Subject:  Anthropology, Canadian World Studies, Criminal Justice & Law, Documentary, Environmental Justice, Environmental Studies, Global Studies, Social Sciences, Sociology, Women's Studies
Language:  English
Grade Level:  9 - 12, Post Secondary
Country Of Origin:  Canada
Copyright Year:  1988
Running Time:  56:39


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This is an inspirational documentary about a young Muslim woman, trained as an anthropologist, who suffered hardship and professional censure to save a desert tribe from becoming extinct in the harsh Sahara. The Bishari tribe had lived in the Sahara for 5,000 years, but were unknown to Egyptian authorities. The Bishari were living in a time warp, their warriors believing they were still the guardians of the ancient Roman gold mines. When the Aswan Dam was constructed, the Bishari’s grazing ground became submerged.

Anthropologist Shahira Fawzy discovered them by chance, suffering from illness and malnutrition. Going against the wishes of her traditional family, Shahira went to live among the Bishari. She studied their customs, fought the government bureaucracy on their behalf, and helped them develop skills such as irrigation, well digging and gardening. Her aim was to ensure that the tribe would maintain its unique culture while surviving in the modern world. Here is a documentary so exotic and fascinating that it has the aura of fiction.

World premiere Mannheim International Film Festival, 1988
Best Documentary Photography Canadian Society of Cinematographers, 1988
Red Ribbon, American Film & Video Festival, 1989
Certificate of Outstanding Achievement, Women in Film Festival, 1988
Best Director Gemini nomination, 
Canadian Film and Television Awards Best cinematography Gemini nomination, 
Canadian Film and Television Awards




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