Malak (in the Coup de Coeur section of the festival) is the story of a teenage Moroccan girl who falls pregnant and her attempts to find a solution to her situation. That’s the plotline, but Malak is really a film about the marginalised in society; about the diversity of modern Moroccan society and the taboos that people face when they depart from socially acceptable behaviour.
On 16 May 2003, 12 suicide bombers detonated bombs in 5 sites in Casablanca, killing themselves and 33 others and injuring more than 100 others. They were the most lethal terrorist attacks in Morocco’s history. Last night, I attended the first showing of Nabil Ayouch’s Horses of God – about the Casablanca bombings – to a Moroccan general public.
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.