Morocco's film industry has been growing over the past several years; not only are other countries filming blockbusters (Kingdom of Heaven, Black Hawk Down, Babel) in the North African nation, but home-grown films are beginning to make an impact abroad.
Zakaria Rmidi, on the blog Morocco Times, announces that the recent Moroccan film, Casa Negra, has been chosen to represent Morocco at the 2010 Academy Awards (Oscars). Rmidi praises the film, saying:
It is an ordinary story that mirrors the Moroccan reality with all of its contradictions. The film also shed light on a wide range of Moroccans who look forward to a better reality, relying on day-to-day Casablanca’s slang. Thus, Noureddine Lakhmari, who gained extensive experience both as a director and actors’ manager, succeeded in making the Moroccan audience prefers to follow the film in cinemas rather than copying pirated versions and emphasizing that the Moroccan audience is attracted to movies which address its concerns.
Blogger Agharass, who was less impressed by the film, writing:
J’aime pas trop casser, de démystifier les œuvres des autres, artistique dans l’âme je préfère toujours laisser le public juger de lui même. Pour cette fois je vais faire l’exception et dire que ce film n’est rien de marocain sauf bien sûr les lieux. La technique de mise en œuvre est ce que je trouve très particulière pour un film marocain, c’est le point qui m’a touché le plus dans Casa Negra. Sur le long de son streaming vidéo et surtout audio : Une jeunesse marocaine qui sollicite tous les moyens pour réussir, chose que je juge être le lot de toutes les sociétés qui connaissent des changements dans la perception de l’individualisme primaire. Le film présente une Casablanca noirci par les mots les plus déplacés, des scènes de violences et des situations qui ne font pas dans le lot majoritaire de la vie d’un casablancais !! C’est pas parce-que une bande de cons vivent en marge qu’il faut généraliser le vécu a l’ensemble de marocains.
The film, a tale of two small-time crooks trying to escape Casablanca, the director Nour-Eddine Lakhmari's second film has already won awards at several film festivals.
Hassan Masiky, blogging on the Moroccan-American Board's “Viewpoints,” reviewed the film, calling it a “true gem” and writing:
The story line of the movie is a realistic portray of the life of several young Moroccans living on the margins of society, not by choice but as a result of circumstances outside of their control. The two main movie characters, Adil and Karim, gave an outstanding performance depicting the aspirations, letdowns and hopes of a generation of young Moroccans on the verge of despair and hopelessness.
Casanegra treats a variety of controversial social issues that are part of Moroccan daily life, still never honestly and openly discussed in conventional forums. From alcoholism and drug use to domestic violence and social exploitation, Nour-Eddine did not shy away from addressing social illnesses in an artistic and cinematographically savvy manner.
Allal El Alaoui, who blogs about film in Morocco, also reviewed the film in May, and in an “open-letter” format to the director, writes:
I also know one thing is that Moroccan viewers would hate themselves because of the vulgarity of your style language that you have well used in your sequences of your movie .But, I think I consider your style as avant-gardist because what we have seen nearly thirty or forty years in Moroccan cinemas through out realistic European and American cinema is the same use of slung language of the street .Moroccan cinema-goers will get used to this language step by step.That is a something that I assure you to be happening very soon .So let’s go to Casanegra and see ourselves through this beautiful story written by Nour-Eddine lkhmari.
Commenter Mohamed Zefzaf agreed, writing:
I agree with you and your evaluation of the film. And though it is “vulgar” in some ways, we moroccans are not used to this in an artistic sense. The reality-particularly concerning the language used- is probably much more vevid than the film. I do think that the film speaks of the human condition which is not particular to Moroccans alone, but rather universal…Just Some thoughts.
Casa Negra, which has not yet been released with English subtitles, has an official blog [FR], Facebook page, and website. For further reading on the Moroccan film industry, check out Sandra Gayle Carter's new book: What Moroccan Cinema?: A Historical and Critical Study.