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Moroccan Cinema Marks Significant Presence at FFIM

Moroccan Cinema Marks Significant Presence at FFIM

Wednesday, 16 November, 2022 - 06:45
A large audience seen at the Marrakesh International Film Festival (FFIM)

The Moroccan cinema has emphasized its powerful presence at the Marrakesh International Film Festival (FFIM) with the honoring of Director Farida Benlyazid, the screening of Maryam Touzani’s “The Blue Caftan” film, Moroccan director Laila Marrakchi’s membership in the official competition’s jury led by Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino, and the ongoing shows of the “Moroccan Cinema Panorama”.

The Marrakesh International Film Festival has represented, since its debut in 2001, a platform to promote Moroccan cinema and bring it closer to the global cinema industry.

Benlyazid is an esteemed director in Morocco with a great record of achievements, which dedicated her as a prominent figure in the national cinema. She was the first woman to work in filmmaking, a scriptwriter with many classics, and a director of movies that discussed spiritual topics, women’s role in the society, social justice, and truth.

Benlyazid is seen as a free, independent artist who paved the way for many women who saw her as an inspiring role model for their journey.

As a tribute for this esteemed cinema model, FFIM screened four of her movies including “Door of the sky” (1988), “Women’s Wiles” (1999), and “The wretched life of Juanita Narboni” (2005).

“I adore this festival. It focuses on promoting the first and second works of the partaking directors. I enjoyed watching great movies over the past years, and the official selections have always been on a higher level,” Benlyazid said, expressing her appreciation of FFIM.

Since its launch, FFIM has largely contributed to developing cinema creativity, co-production, and a true, Moroccan cinematic culture. It also played a role in promoting the Moroccan cinema abroad, as well as encouraging partnerships in this field, and highlighting cinema institutes and visual arts and the creativity of their students in the Moroccan kingdom.

In this year’s edition of FFIM, the Moroccan cinema has been represented by 15 films made by different generations of directors partaking in the “official competition”, “tributes”, “special shows”, “11th continent”, “Moroccan cinema panorama”, as well as the “Jemaa El Fna square shows” which presents three movies: “30 Millions” (2019) directed by Rabih Sajeed, “Brothers” (2022) by Mohammed Amin al-Ahmar, and “Women’s Wiles” (1999) by Farida Benlyazid.

“The Blue Caftan” film, which competes for the festival’s five awards, revolves around Halim and Mina, who own a traditional tailoring shop and caftans in Salé. To meet their customers’ demands, they recruit Youssef, a talented trainee willing to learn tailoring from Halim. With time, Mina starts to notice the influence of the young man on her husband.

In the “special shows” facility, the festival screens two co-produced Moroccan films: “The Damned Don't Cry” (2022) by director Fyzal Boulifa, and “Queens” (2022) by Yasmine Benkiran.

Boulifa’s movie tells the story of Fatima al-Zahraa, who moves with her son, teenager Selim, from a place to another, to escape her scandal. When Selim discover his mother’s past, the latter promises him a new beginning. When they arrive in Tangier, the mother and her son find a new opportunity to have the legitimate life they are craving for but not without dangers.

“Queens” by Yasmine Benkiran takes its spectator to Casablanca, where three women escape police, cross the Atlas Mountains, before reaching the south, to the Atlantic beach.

In the “11th Continent” segment, the festival screens “Sky Shrapnel” (2022) by Adnan Baraka. It’s a co-production that tells the story of Mohammed, a Bedouin in his 50s, who lives a life of continuous search in the deserted lands in southeaster Morocco, looking for meteorites’ remnants in the desert. The film also features Abdul Rahman, a researcher and professor, who uses meteorite stones in his studies and research on the origins of the Earth and life.

The “Moroccan Cinema Panorama” includes five Moroccan films: “Abdalino” (2022) by Hisham Ayoush; “Red Fish” (2022) by Abdeslam Kelai; “In my Mother’s Corner” (2020) by Asmae El Moudir; “Summer Days” (2022) by Faouzi Bensaïdi; and “Visit” (2021) by Simone Bitton.

“Abdalino” tells the story of Abdullah, who lives in a small Moroccan city, and escapes his boring life through a great passion of Brazil; he speaks Portuguese, and wears Brazilian, colorful outfits, until he convinces himself that he’s Brazilian, who lives a delusional love story with Maria, the star of a Brazilian soap opera.

“Red Fish” revolves around Hayat, who leaves prison after a long term, to return to her hometown in northern Morocco, where she finds herself facing a brother who rejects her fear of shame. Hayat, who hopes to meet her son and tell him the truth of what happened with her, meets Amal, who takes care of her little, disabled sister.

“Visit” is the story of a cinema director who finds a postcard among her mother’s belongings. It features the mother’s hometown that she left when she was a kid. The director visits the town, where she makes close connections with the women and girls there.

In “Summer Days”, the spectators watch the story of a family struggling with heavy debts, and they have to sell their childhood house before the fall.

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