Doha – The Rising Sun

Disheartened by her deportation from Europe to Western Sahara, Mariam desperately searches for the means to assert agency over her own life.

Project type: Fiction Feature
Project status: Production
Writer/Director: Eimi Imanishi
Producer: Shrihari Sathe
Producer: Eric Dupont
Producer: Virginie Lacombe
Producer: Belén Sánchez Silvero
Producer: Damon Owlia
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Disheartened by her deportation from Europe, Mariam is forced to return home to Western Sahara. Adrift in the very place that was once her home, she desperately searches for the means to assert agency over her own life.


Mariam, a rebellious young woman, gets deported from Spain after living there for five years and is forced to return home to Western Sahara.

She crosses the border into her homeland carrying the guilt of her failure to achieve the European dream, and enraged that the independence she experienced in Spain is now stripped from her. Caught in a whirlwind of emotions, the film follows Mariam’s struggle to patch together a sense of identity and purpose in a place that feels both familiar and alienating upon her return.

The warmth of her family and home initially provide an anchor for Mariam. However, seeing her tattoos and Westernized values, her mother and sister push Mariam to conform to the gender and cultural norms of their community. Stifled by their expectations, Mariam turns to others in search of comfort. She seeks refuge in her brother and his ring of female hash dealers whose relative autonomy and marginalized lifestyles she sees herself mirrored in.

Mariam also reconnects with her ex-boyfriend Sidahmed, who travelled to Spain with her but got deported before her, after the Spanish authorities separated them. Ignorant of what Sidahmed had lived through after their separation, Mariam throws herself into trying to rekindle their intimacy. Although this mission gives her a sense of purpose and belonging, she doesn’t realize that her efforts only push Sidahmed further into his trauma.

When all of Mariam’s misdirected efforts blow up in her face, and Sidahmed commits the irreparable, Mariam makes a desperate attempt to run away to Spain again. She asks her uncle to smuggle her on his fishing boat, but as she floats in the open waters of the Atlantic ocean, she unexpectedly comes to discover herself and the true meaning of belonging.

Meet the Filmmakers

Eimi Imanishi – Writer/Director
Eimi Imanishi is an award winning Japanese American director and screenwriter. Her short film Battalion To My Beat (2017) won the Canal+ Award for Best International Short at Le Festival du Court Métrage de Clermont-Ferrand in 2017, and screened at over 50 festivals worldwide including the Toronto International Film Festival. Her short film One-Up (2017) won Best Narrative Short at Indie Memphis and was released as a Vimeo Staff Pick film and won Short Of The Week. Imanishi is a 2018 Sundance Directing and Screenwriting Fellow, a 2018 Film Independent Directing Fellow, and a 2019 Time Warner Fellow. Imanishi also received the 2021 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship through the New York Foundation for the Arts, in Video/Film. Imanishi earned her BFA at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London where she majored in sculpture, and currently lives in New York.

Shrihari Sathe – Producer
Shrihari Sathe is a New York-based director and producer. Sathe won the 2019 Independent Spirit Award – Producers Award and the 2016 Cinereach Producer Award. His credits as producer/co- producer include Jamie Sisley’s Stay Awake (2022), Francisca Alegria’s The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future (2022), Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s No Man’s Land (2021), Eliza Hittman’s It Felt Like Love (2013) and Beach Rats (2017), Partho Sen-gupta’s Sunrise (2014), Afia Nathaniel’s Dukhtar (2014), Bassam Jarbawi’s Screwdriver (2018), Ritu Sarin & Tenzing Sonam’s The Sweet Requiem (2018) amongst others. Sathe’s feature directorial debut – 1000 Rupee Note (2014) has received over 30 awards. Sathe has received fellowships from Trans Atlantic Partners (2013), Cannes Producers Network (2014, 2015, 2016), Film Independent Producing Lab (2011) and Sundance Institute Creative Producing Lab (2013). He is a Visiting Assistant Arts Professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and has taught at various universities over the last decade. Sathe is a member of the PGA, IMPPA and AMPAS. 

Eric Dupont – Producer
Eric Dupont is an Oscar-nominated producer who heads Incognito Films. Dupont most recently produced Last Film Show from award-winning director Pan Nalin. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2021 and was shortlisted for the Academy Awards in 2023. He produced Mobile Homes, from director Vladimir de Fontenay and starring Imogen Poots which premiered at the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (Directors Fortnight) in the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Dupont also produced Ave Maria, from director Basil Khalil, which premiered in Official Selection at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the 2016 Academy Awards in the Live Action Short Film Category.

Virginie Lacombe – Producer
Virginie Lacombe has been a producer for twenty years. She produced The Other Son (2012) directed by Lorraine Levy, as well as the feature documentary Faith Connections (2013) by Pan Nalin, and July Hygreck’s comedy Blockbuster (2018), worldwide distributed by Netflix. She co-produced Vladimir de Fontenay’s Mobile Homes (2017), part of Cannes Director’s Fortnight. Her latest films, Port Authority (2019), first feature film by Danielle Lessovitz premiered at Un Certain regard in Cannes, Last Film Show (2021), by award-winning director Pan Nalin that premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and Tommy Guns (2022) by Carlos Conceicaos, won two prices in the last Locarno Film Festival. Lacombe is developing Splinters of Life, by Lorraine Levy, to be shot in Cambodia, and Flares, Danielle Lessovitz’s second feature. Virginie is currently finishing her next production, Silver Star by Ruben Amar, that was shot in the US. 

Belén Sánchez Silvero – Producer
Belén Sánchez Silvero is a founding partner at Un Capricho de Producciones. Her most recent films include The Innocence (2019), a fiction feature film directed by Lucía Alemany Compte, which premiered at the San Sebastian International Film Festival and was selected to more than 30 festivals; Facing the Wind (2018) a fiction feature film directed by Meritxell Colell Aparicio, which premiered at the Berlinale; Ainhoa, Yo No Soy Esa, a feature documentary directed by Carolina Astudillo Muñoz and winner of the documentary section at the 2018 Malaga Festival; and Singled [Out], a feature documentary directed by Mariona Guiu and Ariadna Relea, which premiered at the 2017 SEMINCI. In 2020, Sánchez Silvero was chosen by Variety Magazine as one of the Spanish producers on the rise with the highest international impact, and in 2022 she participated in the Cannes Marche du Film’s Producers Network as part of their Producer Under the Spotlight program.

Damon Owlia – Producer
Damon Owlia is an artist and producer based in Brooklyn, New York. He served as both the Executive Producer and Producer of the Emmy-Nominated thriller series The Accidental Wolf, starring Emmy Nominee Kelli O’Hara and Written/Directed by Emmy Nominee Arian Moayed, which was acquired by Topic/First Look Media. In 2021, he produced The Courtroom, a nonfiction narrative film that tells the story of one woman’s deportation proceeding using only the verbatim text of the real court transcripts. The Courtroom premiered as part of the Tribeca Festival’s Official Selection in 2022. Before that, he produced The Flores Exhibits, a series of videos in which artists, lawyers, advocates, and immigrants read the sworn testimonies of children held in detention facilities at the U.S./Mexico border. Damon also proudly serves on the board of Waterwell, an arts and education company, focusing on new plays, musicals and bold re-interpretations of classics.

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