Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a big fan of Moroccan film and I love attending film festivals to see the latest independent releases. The Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival, run every autumn in Edinburgh and Glasgow, is one of my favourites. And this year I am part of the team! Not only that, for the third year running Africa in Motion is collaborating with the Transnational Moroccan Cinema project at the University of Exeter. Contemporary Moroccan cinema is gaining an international audience and Moroccan film-makers are building great reputations.
This year’s AiM Film Festival programme features no less than five Moroccan feature films – several of which will have their UK premier – plus three shorts. A workshop on experimental documentary-making will take place in the prescience of filmmaker Ali Essafi (La Septieme Porte, Ouarzarzate) and artist Touda Bouanani (Fragments de Memoires, Une Personne) at Edinburgh College of Art. And a weekend-long international symposium at Edinburgh University, Morocco in Motion: The Global Reach of Moroccan Cinema, aims to expand the debates and discussions on the global reach of Moroccan cinema with academics, film-makers and cinema-goers.I am really excited about the symposium, as I will be chairing a panel with academics and film-makers on Migration and Diaspora. All of the panel discussions are really interesting, on topics such as the global and the local in Moroccan cinema (with Nourredine Lakhmari, director of Casanegra, Zero and Burnout); on Moroccan Cinema in the Age of Neoliberalism, chaired by Nadir Bouhmouch (activist and director of 475) and on Scandal and Empowerment in Nabil Ayouch’s films such as Zin Li Fik and Horses of God, to name just three. The symposium is free to attend and tickets are available on Eventbrite. The full programme is here.
But back to the films. The premiers include Nourredine Lakhmari’s new feature, Burnout, which will unfortunately only be screened in Glasgow, but in the presence of the director. Faouzi Bensaidi’s Volubilis screens also, although the director is unable to attend. The House in the Fields is a documentary by Tala Hadid focusing on life in a remote Atlas mountains village for 16 year old Khadija. I will be coordinating the screening of Apatride, a new film directed by Narjiss Nejjar and produced by Lamia Chraibi. Apatride is translated as “stateless” and in the film this status describes Moroccans expelled by Algeria in the 1970s following the Green March of 1975, when the Moroccan state staged a mass march to claim the Spanish Sahara from the colonial power. The protagonist, Hénia, is one of 45,000 families expelled from Algeria to Morocco and she spends her life trying to return to her mother, who is left behind. The 2018 Berlinale saw the film’s European premier, calling Apatride “A quietly sensual film set before a bewitching backdrop that recounts the consequences of a historical event whose effects are still being felt today.” Lamia Chraibi and Professor Florence Martin will take questions after the screening at the Edinburgh Filmhouse on Saturday 27 October.
This year’s Africa in Motion Film Festival is a great opportunity for maroc-o-philes to see films which are making waves in Morocco and France but which might not otherwise be widely available in the UK. And, if you are looking for a chance to practice your Darija (Moroccan Arabic), or even your Tamazight, Edinburgh on the last weekend in October could be the place to be!