Hotel Sahara

Germany 2008, Documentary, 52' | Director, Screenplay Bettina Haasen | DoP Jacko van Hof | Editor Kristine Langner | Sound Pascal Capitolin | Music Karsten Höfer | Production Susanne Radelhof

An endless road, straight as an arrow, on the way to nowhere. At the end of the road: Nouhadibou, a city in Mauritania, West Africa. Bordered on one side by the sea, on the other by the Sahara. An inhospitable transit lounge, harbouring tens of thousands of people from neighbouring countries who all share the same dream: Europe. Hotel Sahara is a metaphor for the halfway house of migrants who have left their homeland, but not yet arrived at the destination of their dreams. Who is to decide who is a “genuine” refugee and who is a “fake”? What difference does it make if someone is threatened with life and limb, or just wants to escape from a life with absolutely no perspectives? “We know that people die in the boats out there”, says someone who is stranded in Nouhadibou, “We know that they don't want us in Italy or Greece. But all we want is something to eat”.

Bettina Haasen's film is about crossroads and paths, about coming and going, hoping and waiting for a better life on the other side of the Atlantic. Situated between the past and the future, Hotel Sahara is an intimate snapshot of a place of unfulfilled dreams, of stagnation, of imaginary and true stories and dual identities.


BETTINA HAASEN was born in 1969 in Goettingen. She studied African Studies and Political Science in Hamburg and Paris and lived for many years in Niger. Since 1992 she has worked as assistant director, in script development and as producer for various film production companies. Zwischen zwei Welten, her first film as director, won the FIPRESCI Award for the best debut film at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. Haasen commutes between Marseille and Berlin and works as a writer and director, including for the Arte magazine Metropolis. She is currently working on her first feature film.

Bettina Haasen
Focus: Freedom