Moroccan film maven Nabil Ayouch announced a 30-strong slate of projects from up-and-coming Moroccan helmers at the Dubai Intl. Film Festival
Dubbed “The Film Industry — Made In Morocco,” the initiative is a collaboration between Ayouch’s Ali N’Productions shingle and Morocco’s national pubcaster SNRT (Societé Nationale de la Radio et Télévision) to finance 30 feature-length features from a dozen of Morocco’s most promising new filmmakers. The Moroccan Ministry of Communication also supported the venture, which will allow a number of the features to be released theatrically domestically, with the remaining titles touring intl. festivals and granted a home video release.
The total budget for the project was $5 million, with each individual film receiving $160,000.
“Each of the filmmakers was given two to three weeks to shoot and a small budget but they had a big crew and total freedom. It was amazing the different types of films which came out of it,” said Ayouch.
While Morocco has long established itself as a location for European and American productions to come and lens , the picture has been for local filmmakers, primarily because Moroccan films face such competition at the domestic box office. “The sad thing is when Moroccans want to see an action movie they go to an American film, when they want to see a musical they see an Indian film and when they want to see a comedy they see an Egyptian film. This can’t be,” said Ayouch. “Why aren’t we capable of making the same genres? Young Moroccan talent had no real opportunity to express themselves outside of the system before this.”
International sales of the films will be handled by Salma Chafii’s Zaza Films Distribution.
Ayouch was in Dubai to attend the world preem of his own latest pic, “Whatever Lola Wants,” about a Gotham dancer (Laura Ramsey) who travels to Cairo and becomes a famous belly dancer. The $12 million production, with coin coming entirely from Gallic outfit Pathe, is the most expensive ever by a Moroccan director and marks Ayouch’s first foray into English-language production.
Dubai Intl. Film Fest runs through until Dec. 16.