31  08  2004

Cinema - Morocco

Interview with Mohamed Asli

Born in 1957, the Moroccan director Mohamed Asli entered outstandingly in the universe of the features with " A Casablanca, les angels ne volent pas ." This Moroccan -Italian coproduction (Dagham Movies and Gam Movies) has been selected on the Week of the Critique 2004 on the Cannes film festival. An merited spotlight stroke for this film-maker trained in Milan and who worked a long time in the production side. Founder of the Kanzaman studios in Ouarzazate, Mohamed Asli incorporated a film training centre to this structure in 2003 in partnership with Cinecittà Holding and the Luce institute. Beginning July, Euromedcafe met the director in the Institut du Monde Arabe ( in Paris, on the occasion of the 7th Biennial of the Arabian movies where his film took back the IMA price for the first feature film.

Euromedcafe: First Moroccan movie selected on the Week of the Critique in Cannes since 1978, " A Casablanca, les anges ne volent pas " presents a gloomy picture of the present Morocco.
Mohamed Asli: " From Casablanca I have shown my vision of things that correspond to reality. I shot what is real. After 47 years, I have achieved my dream, a long feature, but I have many more dreams, as the characters of my movie who don't manage to achieve their small dreams. How to progress in a country where one cannot even attain these small dreams? "

At what stage is Moroccan cinema?
" Some film-makers have some possibilities, but never in Morocco. Because Morocco doesn't permit to perfect one’s own film vision. But there are the individuals, Moroccans in the world, who try to express their love to their country. Because there are metaphysical relations with this country, not only from Moroccans, but also from French citizens, from Europeans who like this country. Unfortunately, one perceives it ruined, damaged.

Was your film difficult to produce?
" Yes. I had to make it seven years ago, but I didn't have the means. The CCM (Centre Cinématographique Marocain) didn't want to sustain me and to give me director's credential at the time. Therefore I had to wait. Otherwise, the Moroccan political climate was not then propitious for this kind of movie. In the Mediterranean, we must create some synergies. There won't be a one way solution. To look for solutions in Morocco or to the South of the Mediterranean is not enough. We need help and the West also needs us. "

What do you think about the present intercultural dialogue between Europe and the countries of the South and the East of the Mediterranean basin?
" It doesn't exist. There is only another colonialist vision, rather say profit, that gets in place. This is not very intelligent at the level of security, of cooperation. Because the well-being in the South of the Mediterranean is also the security of the other strand. One sees this South damaged in the political, cultural and economic level as I tell it in my film, due to this behaviour which is not fruitful for the North either. Artists have a role to play. This is why I made this film and I created this school with Cinecittà and the Luce institute. I count a lot on a filmic and artistic dialogue between the two strands of the Mediterranean. That the conscience of the North discovers the good path to survive. We are ready to be at the forefront, to be the pyrotechnists of the dialogue. But a political determination that for the meantime doesn't exist is necessary. And the impulse can only come from the leaders of the countries of the North of the Mediterranean. I don't see it for tomorrow. "

Why to create a film school in Ouarzazate?
" To develop this dialogue, to shape the personalities of those who are sensitive to this opening, who put forward their points of view. How is it possible that an independent country since about fifty years doesn't have a director of photography, a scriptwriter, an engineer of sound, a setter. The lack of interest of the countries of the North of the Mediterranean, the lack of dialogue drove to this situation. It is serious, whereas concerning films, we have some tools on the level of the imaginary and landscapes. I cannot make daring films, but others make it in Europe and in America. It is what is beautiful on the international scene : each one represents his world. And this is what creates the human wealth. Everything that I saw during my years of training influenced me. From the neo-realism in Olmi, to the independent American films, the Chinese cinema or the Iranian production. But when the film is beautiful, I don't bother from where it comes. "

Fabien Lemercier