Nabil Ayouch was born in Paris of a mixed Muslim/Jewish marriage. He directed the acclaimed docu-style drama, Ali Zaoua about street kids in Casablanca. This year, partially as an exercise in exploring his own heritage, he released a new work: a documentary exploring the Palestinian issue. I was fortunate to be able to watch My Land at the Alliance Franco-Marocaine in Essaouira as part of their documentary month.
In the week where hostilities in between Israel and Palestine are in the news once again, a film about halcyon days of Muslim-Jewish coexistence was all the more poignant. And the film had all the more impact because it was made – not by a nostalgic Jew, but by a young historian and film-maker of many identities, none of which was Jewish or Israeli.
Death for Sale is Morocco’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards. The publicity blurb makes it sound like the jewellery heist is the main event in this, Moroccan director/writer/actor Faouzi Bensaïdi’s latest film. However, the crime thriller label does not do this film justice. It is a character study of three friends, united in their lack of prospects and a desire to break free from the shackles of poverty without the real tools to do so. It is also a dark tale of misplaced trust, deception and corruption. Continue reading
The Moroccan Government has heavily promoted Moroccan locations and the film industry has grown to the extent that it is possible to do tours of movie sets and studios. Things have come a long way since the likes of Casablanca (which celebrated its 70th birthday in 2012!), Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much of 1956 (you can eat in the palace where it was filmed in Marrakech) or Orson Welles’ 1952 classic interpretation of Othello. IMDb lists 766 films and TV episodes filmed in Morocco and it feels like every other Moroccan you meet has been an extra or crew on Hollywood blockbusters.