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Morocco unveils slate at Dubai

Initiative a collaboration between Ayouch, SNRT

Moroccan film maven Nabil Ayouch announced Wednesday a slate of 30 pics 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 Moroccan pubcaster SNRT (Societé Nationale de la Radio et Télévision).

The total budget for the project is $5 million, with each film receiving $160,000.

The Moroccan Ministry of Communication also is backing the venture, which will allow some of the features to be released theatrically domestically, with the remaining titles touring festivals and granted a home video release.

“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, the picture has been more patchy 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 pic, “Whatever Lola Wants,” about a Gotham dancer (Laura Ramsey) who travels to Cairo and becomes a belly dancer.

The $12 million production, financed by 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 closes on Sunday.

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