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Morocco Selects ‘Horses’ for Oscars

Pic world preemed at Cannes

Horses of God,” the latest film by Nabil Ayouch, regarded by many as the leading Moroccan director of his generation, will represent Morocco in the foreign-language Academy Award category.

Sold by Wild Bunch, and co-produced and distributed in France by Pierre-Ange Le Pogam’s Stone Angels, “Horses of God” is one of 2012’s biggest-scale films from the Arab world.

Written by Jamal Belmahi, “Horses” was inspired by Mahi Binebine’s novel, “The Stars of Sidi Moumen.”

It meshes two strands of much Ayouch filmmaking — psychological observance of young protagonists, social detail — portraying the early lives of four late-teen perpetrators of 2003’s Casablanca suicide bombings.

All grow up in the Casablanca slum burb of Sidi Moumen, a township dominated by a rubbish dump, captured in swooping aerial-cam shots. Sidi Moumen’s dead-end jobs, grinding poverty, and lack of culture provide tacit explanation to kids’ final embrace of fundamentalism.

“Horses” world preemed at Cannes 2013 Un Certain Regard.

A selection committee drawn up by the Moroccan Cinematographic Center (CCM) chose “Horses” as Morocco’s Oscar submission.

Underscoring Morocco’s admirably sustained production levels over the last decade, 12 films were presented for this year’s candidature.

To date, “Horses” has won top plaudits at 19 films festivals, among them the Golden Spike at Spain’s Valladolid Fest. “Horses’” won the Seattle Festival director and best director audience award this June.

U.S. filmmaker Jonathan Demme, who caught “Horses of God” last December at Morocco’s Marrakech Festival, presented the film this year at New York’s  Jacob Burns Films Center.

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