Thursday, January 24, 2008
Allal El Alaoui and Foad Beniouri
by Allal El Alaoui
Francois Truffaux 's cinephilia begins with watching VHS video cassettes, that means had Truffaux been alive in our days , he would go to buy CDs And DVDs from Shops just like Foad 's one .Cinemagoers in Morocco ask for Cinema D'autheur ,because its good quality imposes itself to educate the taste .
Although Essamarine Undergoes severe control of CCM ,known as El Kissaria in Rabat and Derb Ghellaf in Casablanca , shops of classical cinema resist the pressure that the authorities practises on them .Now, It is obvious that the power of buying is active around El Kissariyaa and no doubt that in Morocco like other countries , the culture of image is amasingly having a boom thanks to the policy of cinema productions .As a result, cinephilia grows considerably very well.Strangely and legally in Morocco, Alchohol is allowed in shops and super-markets ,but cinema of great quality is forbidden.This dilemma metamorphoses the semi-western culture that a muslim country like Morocco is having . For some, it is a paradize lost and for others it is a ferocious
fight between the sacred and the profane.This echoes a victory of the culture of image and its education on taste cinematographically.From this context, i went to downtown El Essamarine Al kissaria to interview Foad Beniouri , one of the distinguished young cinemagoers in Rabat, that thanks to him cinephilia comes back and becomes popular .
Allal-cinemagoer : How come do you obtain all these schools of cinema burnt in DVD just in a little tiny shop here in Rabat ?
Foad : It is genetic .I mean it comes from my Father .Here in Rabat ,when i was a child ,my father used to take me to watch western movies .I mean to say movies with Hollywoodian stars like Kirk Douglas and Burnt Lancaster .Well ,I watched all these movies at Cinema Star in the north of Rabat near the sea, the place called l'Ocean .
Allal-cinemagoer : Was it sort of a hobby ?
Foad : Yes, it was .the days of my childhood was beautiful and exciting, full of actions .So, I had some options in front of me either to fish or go to movies with my father and sometimes i stayed at home reading literature .As i grew up a little bit , i began to think of myself .How can i face my life ? The option to go to the north of Morocco and bring smart clothers and resell them was an idea that overtook my thinking ,and indeed i started to bring some special things from Tangier ,Tetwan and Nador .Usually Moroccans want handsome goods that come from Spain or from Asiatic countries like Thaiwan and China.
Allal-cinemagoer : Time has changed with the coming of the digital tools and machines ?
Foad : Excactly.You mean in 2000.Eveybody worries about the future of mankind especially the banks ,because number 0 would change that time to whatever .But, what amazes me so much is that the big interest of film-makers who had great faith and fell quickly in love with digital cinema ..First, there came DVX cinema.People enjoyed this genre of cinema vey much and then VCD came out and clients were more interested of this kind of revolution .I remembered that we sold DVX about 150DH per one.Later on,a friend of mine contacted me and proposed to work with him .This latter knew that i was a big fan of classical cinema and we started to work on DVDs which were valuable that time .
Allal-cinemagoer :May be you had that idea to burn western movies , because you knew that Moroccan cinemagoers would ask for them ?
Foad : Moroccan cinephiles have excellent taste .It is true that they want cow-boy movies , but too many asked me about classical cinema.People wanted to see again great films of great directors at home and you know what it means to watch a movie in DVD. So, i started to burn all movies of Akira Kurasawa, Russian cinema and of course Cinema d'autheur .People usually watch VHS movies but DVD quickly is appreciated by too many cinema lovers .DVD has an excellent quality in resolution as far as image is concerend but VHS has low and poor quality .Besides , cinemagoers love to have a DVD library at home .
Allal-cinemagoer : Too many Moroccan film-directors and cinephiles come to your shop to buy DVD movies just like Daoud Aoulad-Syad, Abderrahman Tazi,Mohamed Eddahane and Barkach and also people from The federal association too .What strikes me most is that too many Moroccan film -directors do not want to have their films in DVS.It is strange,is not it ? .CCM could have burnt Moroccan classical cinema to promote cinephilia ever since 1944 .What do you think of this self-control that CCM is doing ?
Foad : Nabil Ayouch has accepted to burn his movies into DVD.If you look around , you will find his movie, Ali Zawa still in the market.There is also Leila Marrakechi 's film -Marock -
Allal-cinemagoer: But, these film-directors are born in France .Mentality is different.
Foad : So what .they are Moroccan .They are like those American film-directors .I mean to say ; Quentin Tarantino and Michael Moore .Those people say that their films can be hacked in the net ,because as i said to you before, those people respected Cinephilia.I think it is about Intelligence.This policy of encouraging piracy seduces more cinemagoers to watch their films .Suppose that a Moroccan film maker has made a movie that costs a lot of money , but nobody goes to see it.it is a disaster,is not it ? . On the contrary, if this film-maker encourages people to hack his movie, his movie will be seen everywhere, because i think it i is a nice technique to ad your goods through this method, knowing also that publicity plays a major role not only to finance movies , but also it pushes people to go to cinemas or come to buy movies from our shops.T think the
club of Quentin , Nabil and Michael is overcrowded considerably and you may go and visit their sites on the net and you will be surprised how many people are still asking about their movies .However,i am with the opening and reopening of the Moroccan -cinema theatres.Cinemas are the ideal place to dream as we did when we were children.
Allal-cinemagoer: Producing cinema with new visions,does it mean to you something ? the independence cinema and literature .Do these words mean to you someting ?
Foad : Remaking films is another step to promote cinema in the right way.I give some examples of our national directors .Souhail Ben Barka has remade a spanish novel may be taken from Cervantens 'La noce de Sang'and also an internatioanl one calledOb Cried oh beloved country ' which becomes ' Amock'. Abdelelhay El Iraki has remade Edmond Rostand's Cyrano De Bergerac'which becomes 'Yakouta ', starring Mohamed Miftah and Fatima Khier .I have also heard that you have rewritten Callie Khoury's movie ' Thelma and Louis'which is now called " Zoubida and Zoulikha' and that Iman Mesbahi is interested to direct it . Morocco has changed deeply and this is confirmed in writing of great anthropologists like Abdellah Hamoudi and Triki.As you know that there is a peaceful fighting between Hollywood and Bollywood .But still one remakes the other which is great .That is to say,Hollywood remakes Bollywood and Vice-versa.
Now, 2M Tv has diffused ' Wjjae El Tourab by Shafik Shimi,a wonderful rewriting of Emil Zola's novel .I think it is a success.Eveybody talks about it in the street .I hope our film-directors shift 180 degrees to remake movies .I am still surprised why they don't produce Mohammed Choukri's novel ' Le Pain Nu '.I think it will be a beautiful movie and please tell me later what will happen to the box office locally. This shifts us to talk about the independence cinema of Jim Jurmush and John Cassavettes .These film-makers in America have guts and courage to tackle touchy subjects.People here in Morocco want to see mentalities of money holders to change.So ,in stead of investing on building houses and appartments,business men should produce movies in quantity and quality.
I also know that Ridly Scott , the british film-maker makes a big controvercy in Morocco by appealing against my colleagues of his later movie -American Gangaster - . What happens is that my colleagues were hasty to sell his movie. The USA embassy in Rabat makes an appeal for that and the resellor is now in prison.Ridly Scott,as he knows, has always been welcomed to shoot his movies in Morocco.Thanks to the people of Morocco, his movie " The Gladiator ' has been a great success.Do we merit to be punished this way,Scotty ? I think next time Ridly Scoot(Scoot means shut up in Moroccan dialog) might be stoned by kids as it happenend to Kamal Kamal in the south of Morocco (laughingly). what happens to Morocco in creating film festivals is something good ,because it is an opportunity for producers, film-makers and cinephiles to meet and talk .Moroccan producers should trust film-makers and let them express themselves .This is an important option to promote cinema here. May be it is time to make festivals in the south too. The south of Morocco has seduced international film makers namely the directors of photography .They know that the sky in the South is as pure as the soul of man.Movies like ' le thé au Sahara ' ' The Momies' and Marrakech' are a great success.
Allal-cinemagoer : what do you want to say to the authorities and especially CCM ? do you have a message ??
Foad : Yes .of course I have .what we see now in the market is that Moroccan cinema is doing well thanks to money that the state is giving to film-makers .This is a good sign to national productions which enjoy a nice position among international cinema.However, i want that CCM to legalize our buziness of selling Dvds here in Essamarine ,Al kissariya .Nour-eddine Sail ,himseld said that as far as cinephiles ask for more hacked movies, people will still go to buy pirate films.
I think He knows the power of cinema d'autheur .Therefore, our shops must be open.
Allal-cinemagoer : You mean Piracy must be ligalized ? don't you think it is a difficult job for CCM ?
Foad : Well.I am like film-makers. I sell dreams .If you go around Rabat, you will not find any Cine-club that has movies like i do, apart from foreign embassies here in Rabat via their cultural services,unfortunately they don't project new films,because Embassies must go through very long procedures and negociations with houses of productions in order to do so .
.They themselves come to visit me to buy some films. We, here in Essamarine, need to be legal and we don't want to see CCM control clerks hammering us with their laws and frightening us each time they come around here .
Last year, I got married and i myseld wanted to have children like anybody else.I want to buy an appartement like any honest Moroccan man.I think CCM must take our case vey seriously.It should do .I believe in dialog .Many people say to me that thanks to my movies ,their taste has been stabilized considerably .Don't you see we have cured so many people like doctors .
Interviewed by Allal El Alaoui
" Je n'aimerais pas voir un film pour la première fois en video ou à la télévision,on voit d'abord un film en salle (...) Avoir un en video m'en donne une connaissance beacoup plus intime (...) Pour moi comme cinéphile la video blouleverse ma vie-avoir un film en vidéo m'en donne une connaissance beaucoup plus intime -en tant que cinéphile je suis un fanatique de la vidéo "