Tous les articles par Stefanie Elvire Van De Peer

Saida Janjague @ London Film School (1)

Mon arrivée à Londres s’est déroulé sans problème. J’ai eu un petit coup de stress au début pour trouver un logement. Mais une fois que je l’ai trouvé, j’ai pu enfin commencer à profiter de ce qu’offre la ville, et j’ai pu visité la London Film School et rencontrer les responsables ainsi que d’autres personnes.

Saïda Janjague

J’ai pu rencontré la productrice et réalisatrice Nicola Gibson, et j’ai également assisté à ses conférences en production à la London Film School dans le cadre des projets documentaires des étudiants.

J’ai assisté à un cour de camera operating pour les tournages documentaire de Joy Dyer. Lors de la séance j’ai partagé avec lui et ses étudiants mon expérience des problèmes que j’ai pu rencontré quand je tournais. Surtout dans les tournages en plein désert, et avec des températures assez élevées.

J’ai également rencontré la responsable de production à la London Film School, Sue Austen. Nous avons discuté et elle m’a expliqué un peu les cours de production qu’elle va donner vers fin de février. Des cours auxquels j’ai hâte d’assister pour en apprendre plus sur la production.

Je suis actuellement en développement d’un documentaire que j’ai envie de tourner ici à Londres. Je pense que cela va être une expérience très enrichissante pour moi de faire un tournage dans un autre pays. J’ai trouvé mon sujet et j’ai commencé à faire des recherches et me documenter plus à ce niveau. Puis je suis allée rencontrer des personnes susceptibles ou non de faire partie de cette aventure. Ma recherche des personnes intéressantes pour mon sujet est toujours en cours.

Festival International Marrakech

The 15th edition of the International Festival in Marrakech was rich in tributes to international stars (US Bill Murray, Bollywood star Madhuri Dixit, Korean director Park Chan-Wook, actor Willem Dafoe, as well as Moroccan director of photography Kamal Derkaoui) and to Canadian cinema. With a wide choice of films from India to Mexico, from Kazakhstan to the Ivory Coast, the festival showcased a wide international array of films, with the screening – off competition – of only six long features out of eighty-five from Morocco (and a seventh, Black, by Moroccan directors Adil El Arbi and Billal Fallah, funded by Belgium).Marrakech 13

Two among the latter were greeted with thunderous applause: La Isla (Ahmed Boulane, Morocco and Spain, 2015) and La Marche verte (Youssef Britel, Morocco, 2015). The former’s narrative, a comic spin on Robinson Crusoe in today’s Mediterranean, features a famous comedian in Morocco, Abdellah Ferkous, whose mere appearance on screen triggered an enthusiastic welcome from the audience. Based on the 2002 territorial dispute over the tiny island of Perejil, this comedy tells two tales: the first one focuses on an ordinary policeman, Ibrahim, sent on a mission to monitor the moves of migrants from Africa on a tiny desert island in the Mediterranean near Tangier. One day, Ibrahim finds African migrant Mamadou (Issa N’Diaye) just as Robinson his Friday. The second one is the story of a brewing international conflict. As soon as Ibrahim hoists his Moroccan flag (to the enthusiastic applause of the audience in the Palais des Congrès in Marrakech), the Spanish Bureau, even the American one, start fretting about what they see as an abrupt take-over of the island by Morocco.

The second film, La Marche verte, relates Hassan II’s historic call to the Moroccan people on October 16 1975 to “reclaim the provinces of the South” (aka Western Sahara). It then follows the 350,000 volunteers who boarded trucks in all the provinces of Morocco, headed south and crossed the border into a territory controlled at the time by Spain. The only army shown on screen is the Spanish troops who, upon seeing civilians (especially women and children), do not shoot. The film shows no real visible presence of the Moroccan Royal Armed Forces and suggests that the Green March was completely peaceful. Here again, many in the Palais des Congrès applauded with gusto, as they watched the massive crowd walk across the Southern border, the flag of the kingdom flying high.

Red carpet at Marrakech 2015, with audience (c) Justine Atkinson
Red carpet at Marrakech 2015, with audience (c) Justine Atkinson

The wild clapping and cheering from certain sections of the audience thus welcomed a similar message delivered along two distinct modes (a popular comedy vs. a national epic): in these times of uncertainty, the Kingdom’s vigilance continues to protect its borders against all outside threats.

Florence Martin

Karyan Bollywood

Karyan Bollywood is Yassine Fennane’s first feature film, after several shorts (Petite blessure / Tiny wound, 2002; Danger manThe Future Is NowChemise blanche, cravate noire, and Trust fighter, 2004) and three films for TV for the Film Industry/Made in Morocco project under Nabil Ayouch as well as a series, Une Heure en enfer, co-authored with Eli El Mejboud for the Al Aoula channel in Morocco. The film received the Prix de la première oeuvre (First film award) at the 2015 National Film Festival in Tangiers.

Poster Karyan Bollywood
Poster Karyan Bollywood

At first, Karyan Bollywood can be seen as a filmic illustration of Salman Rushdie’s “chutnification”: his flavorful image to describe a post-colonial cultural state of hybridity would thus be transposed to a Moroccan film. Casablanca’s discontents and dreams = Mumbai’s. The narrative circles around a Bollywood classic, in both form and content, the dream of the singing and dancing hero forever paralleled and contrasted with the rank reality of the slums outside Casablanca.

The protagonist is obsessed with the 1982 film Disco Dancer (by Babbar Subhash, India) that his now deceased projectionist father showed him when he was a kid, a film that, his father said, contains the answers to all questions. Jimmy adopts the name and dress of its hero, his bedroom is an altar to Bollywood and disco, he lives in a state of arrested development that starts and stops with Disco Dancer. Of course, he is in love with Mouna, the dream girl who lives on the other side of the tracks, and whose bourgeois demeanor rubs up his pal, Houda, the wrong way. In order to get to her, the dazzled thirty-year old dreamer decides to shoot a remake of Dirty Dancer with a “borrowed” IPhone, in the slums. The destruction of the latter is imminent, under the harsh command of a cruel villain: Barkour (who turns out to be Houda’s father, the exact opposite of Jimmy’s father: he is alive, and abandoned Houda and his mother while Jimmy’s father, like a benevolent ancestor, may be dead but still haunts his son in a caring fashion).

The film is a mix of comedy and fantasy (the viewer is presented with Jimmy’s dreamscape at all times), a comedy and a satirical comment on the “people at the margins” as Yassine Fennane is fond of saying, caught between abject poverty and the destruction of home. Change is not easy: neither for Jimmy who has to grow up, nor for the slum dwellers afraid of an even greater economic hardship if they move out. Similarly, cinema may help (Jimmy’s father, the projectionist, finds meaning in film; the slum dwellers finally see themselves on screen at the end of the film) but ultimately does not (it repeats a dreamscape in a loop without changing a thing). The homage to Bollywood (Indian films have been shown forever in Morocco), like a distorting mirror, provides a sliver of escape before it turns back to not even neo-realism but hyper-realism in its depiction of the Casablanca outcasts.

Florence Martin

Déjà-vu à Casablanca

Riding the train from Rabat to Casablanca for the first time, my eyes are glued to the train window, even if the latter has seen better and cleaner days: a yellowish haze filters the screen of the shifting landscape. Past the station of Mohammedia, the surroundings change from industrial wasteland to “residential”: the first bidonville appears (the term first appeared in French to qualify the slums of Casablanca, as the city sprawled from a mere 20,000 in 1907 to today’s 2.5 million and counting), and will be followed by many more, huddled along garbage dumps where the refuse of the neighboring urban centers is piled high and oozes past the main heap in all directions. My surprise comes from a feeling of déjà vu: I recognize the slums of Nabil Ayouch’s Horses of God, of Yassine Fennane’s Karyan Bollywood. I register the patchwork of roofs sprouting with satellite dishes in haphazard rows like invasive weeds.

Once in the city, riding a petit taxi to my first appointment downtown, I soon find myself in one of these famous Casablanca traffic jams: noisy, utterly chaotic, but again not startling, a pale version of those in Noureddine Lakhmari’s Zero (I do get slightly concerned, however, when my taxi abruptly jerks to the right to follow the shiny black Audi that has just inaugurated a third lane in a two-lane boulevard).

Bensaidi, What a Wonderful World (2006)
Bensaidi, What a Wonderful World (2006)

I reach my destination near the Twin Center and, upon seeing the twin towers of Casablanca, realize with a twinge of disappointment that Bensaïdi’s What a Wonderful World had made them taller, more foreboding, whiter! My filmic familiarity with them now morphs into a bizarre nostalgia for a place that never was: a filmic fantasy achieved with a bright filter, larger than life.

On my way to another appointment, I pass restaurants and cafés that spring out of Nabil Ayouch’s Ali Zawa, Noureddine Lakhmari’s Casanegra, and finally What a Wonderful World, the café in which Kamel waits for Kenza. At that precise moment, as the taxi is going around the circle in front of the – by now for me mythical – brasserie, it starts to rain heavy drops, vertically, very much like the selective cloud that empties itself exclusively over the two protagonists in WWW.

The cinematic bubble of Casablanca has taken over the physical Casablanca in which I find myself. Puzzled by this form of cine-tourism to which I have unwittingly fallen prey, I nonetheless keep identifying sights from film and film from sights, at each turn in the city. It will take several more ventures to Casa to reel the films back and start to see the city afresh, no longer a movie set…

Florence Martin

Les cinémas de Casablanca

On February 17, 2015, I met Abdellatif Labbar in the old theater district, a stone’s throw away from the Rialto. This delightful gentleman who used to program the films that were screened in Casablanca, reminisced about the golden age of cinemas in his fast-changing city and explained why Indian films were screened in Morocco. 

Cinema Rialto
Cinema Rialto

“I was in charge of programming the films to be screened in Casablanca. There were over two hundred movie theaters in the Kingdom. Today we only have a little over fifty screens…” [fifty-seven, according to the Centre Cinématographique Marocain]. “Too much piracy and too little interest perhaps… People have changed… Look at the many old cinemas of Casa: the Rialto, the Vox, the Empire, the Colisée, the Lux, the Verdun… most of them are closed now, although in theory, a movie theater cannot be closed.

In the old days, we programmed films from the US, France, Italy, from all over Europe, but also, of course, a lot of Egyptian films. People loved swashbuckling films, American westerns. Each time we screened a film by Charlie Chaplin, it was always a hit! And it was a hit for a long time: people adored him! Some of the oldies, like Ben Hur or the films with Sidney Poitier were so popular they had a five-week run, especially in the summer… There were other sorts of hits: I remember Z by Costa-Gavras (1969), in particular. It arrived on Moroccan screens only in 1972. But the censors took it down on its second day of release. Too politically charged after the failed attempted coups against Hassan II [the Skhirat coup on July 10, 1971 and the aborted putsch of August 16 1972, dubbed “le coup d’état des aviateurs”]… When the film was reissued ten years later, people flocked to it! And it showed at the Rialto and the Vox for weeks on end.

Cinema dealt with language in an interesting way: the Moroccan audience saw the French versions of the films coming from the United States. Gone with the Wind, for instance, was dubbed in French. So were the westerns with John Wayne. Only a handful of French films were dubbed in darija to accommodate the local audience – Fantômas and later Fanfan la tulipe come to mind – otherwise, most French films were screened in their original versions. The same went for Egyptian films, of course. Moroccans, like other people in the Arab world, learned the Egyptian dialect via Egyptian radio (Voice of the Arabs), TV and cinema.

In 1963, however, Morocco and Algeria fought on border issues. Egypt, recently independent and led by Gamal Nasser, sided with the Algerian FLN against Morocco. In reprisals, the Kingdom broke all diplomatic ties with Egypt. As a result, we could no longer import Egyptian films. This is when Morocco started to import films from India massively, and dub them in darija. We were inundated with Indian films! Lots of Indians had moved to Tangier when it was an international city, had married Moroccan women and settled in various urban centers throughout the Kingdom. Some of their translations were hilarious!”

Florence Martin