CINEMA: Long lost documentary from Morocco found and restored, with a radical message that is highly relevant many years later
Hans Henrik Fafner
Hans Henrik Fafner
Fafner is a regular critic in Modern Times Review.
Published date: November 19, 2019

There are several good reasons to consider Mostafa Derkaoui a pioneer of Moroccan cinema and one of his country’s most prolific filmmakers. In January 1974 he returned home after studies in Łódź, Poland, for several years, and he immediately set out to change things.

The Moroccan film industry at the time was still in its infancy, and Derkaoui did not want it to develop into another showcase of commercial or entertainment cinema, as was the case in the dominating Arab film nation, Egypt. Neither did he want to produce obscure pieces of underground art for the selected few. He had no wish to defer to the expectations of the public and the critics but wanted to proceed differently by making something that neither referred to the experiences of people in capitalist countries, nor to those in Third World countries, like Algeria and Egypt.

This became the framework of his first feature film. Here, we find him with a group of like-minded filmmakers and intellectuals, and helped along with plenty of wine and Marxist principles, as they go into Casablanca in search of a public that should give them an indication of audience expectations.

A cinema which doesn’t tackle real problems makes films go wrong, says the Moroccan poet and writer Mostafa Nissabory along the way, and that turns out to become a bitter …

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