Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Iman Misbahi Looks at lenzes and discovers redemption in cinema

To alleviate women's distress, Moroccan Film Director Imane Mesbahi Prefers :

Lenses rather than medicine

Men's authority provokes me

Iman Misbahi

To alleviate women's distress, Moroccan Film Director Imane Mesbahi Prefers :

Lenses rather than medicine

Men's authority provokes me

Moroccan Film director Iman Mesbahi has excelled in many fields in spite of being in the midst of her first artistic trail. Born into a film making family and brought up with a love for this art, she has endorsed the film industry as a way to heal other people's sufferings.

In order to try to put an end to others' sufferings, Iman had to choose between medicine and a movie camera. Her love for cinematography convinced her that it is the better tool to use in order to change society. Therefore, she decided on the lens rather than medicine.

Iman prefers film directing to all other film making branches because she feels it can help her cure others' sufferings. "Instead of being in front of the camera, I have chosen to be behind it. From an early age, I detected in myself strong feelings and a powerful ability to observe the world around me. Then I discovered that my role in this life is film making. If I had not chosen this field, I would have chosen medicine," Iman says.

The daughter of a well known Moroccan film producer, Iman soon developed a love for cinematography. Her father was one of Moroccan cinema pioneers and directed many long features films with famous actors from various countries.

"Still," Iman continues, "I can not pretend that my message complements that of my father. His concerns and the issues he is dealing with are totally different from mine. I am a woman and am more interested in the issues pertaining to women because of physiological and psychological reasons and the sociological impact on my personality. As I am living in a male dominated society, men's authority shocks and provokes me to tackle the issues around me. Issues tackled by my father are usually global while those I tackle are special and very simple. They are about human feelings."

Many of her earlier films deal with the situation facing Moroccan women. Regarding the complexity of this situation, Iman said, "I cannot pretend that I have dealt with all the women's issues in Moroccan society. It would take much more than a few films to address the significance of these issues. There need to be many more films made and much more media exposure in order to bring about fundamental, positive changes to the situation facing Moroccan women. I am very committed to and concerned with working towards this goal. I am right now studying a scenario dealing with another aspect of the situation confronting women."

In her latest work, Iman focuses on the immigration issue. She commented on this shift by saying: "This issue is not a new one for me, especially when we know that I myself lived away from my country for more than seventeen years. Living far away from my society, I was lost, struggling to integrate into a foreign culture, while at the same time, searching for my identity and my roots. When I returned to my country Morocco, I tried to maintain a relationship and communicate with my society."

Iman Mesbahi admits that the film industry has expanded her awareness and given her a philosophical and meditative outlook towards life. However, at the same time, she does not hide her ambition for seeing the Moroccan film industry prosper in various film markets inside as well as outside the region. It is her hope that Moroccan films will soon be well received internationally and will win various awards in international film festivals.

Iman believes that the film industry can have a very effective and interactive role in changing society and improving the level of awareness and culture. In order to do so in her own films, Iman uses realism as her style.

According to Iman, realism deals with daily, simple human life and is the most effective style for serving as a catalyst for positive change. "I believe that a movie that can not bring any change for the viewer does not deserve to be shown or seen." Iman Mesbahi concluded.

Again and again, Iman Mesbahi admits that film industry has wide opened her awareness and given her a philosophical and contemplating dimension to life, at the same time, she has not hidden her ambition to see the Moroccan film industry prospering in various film markets inside and outside the region, to be welcomed internationally and to win various awards in international film festivals.

Maryanne Melchior Assistant Editor, Morocco Today