Eugene Jarecki – two times winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize – for “Why We Fight” (2005) and “The House I Live In” (2012) – is preparing an untitled “Tuareg Project,” that he will shoot in Morocco.
The pic will be produced by Addison O’Dea (“Discovery TRVLR”), and line produced by Moroccan producer Zakaria Alaoui, of Zak Productions.
The project marks a return for Jarecki to fiction after focusing in recent years on documentaries, including his recent Elvis Presley-themed musical road trip “The King” (2018), featuring celebrity guests such as Alec Baldwin, Ethan Hawke, Lana del Rey, and Chuck D., which premiered at Sundance and made its international debut in Cannes.
Jarecki has written the script with his son, Jonas, based on a bestselling novel.
One of his main concerns is to avoid a post-colonial Western gaze on the subject and considers that his experience in anthropological documentary filmmaking will help him achieve authenticity.
“I’m white, half German/half Russian, born in America. I spend half my time between the U.S. and Berlin. I’m a mutt, in terms of my pedigree. But I’m a person of the world and I’m interested in the stories of cultures that need protection and cultures that keep us connected to our roots as human-beings. The world knows the looks and a certain sort of aura about the Sahara but people are deeply unaware of the fine nuanced humanity of Saharan people. This isn’t a meditation on a foreign exotic culture. It’s an action film, a very real story from a place that everybody knows of, but very few people understand.”
To ensure both the authenticity and viability of the project, Jarecki and O’Dea are being advised by veteran line producer Zakaria Alaoui and also by cultural, musical and Tuareg advisors.
“I don’t feel comfortable walking into a region unless I have been vetted and educated by people who have spent their whole lives in the sensitivity of their culture,” says Jarecki.
O’Dea met Alaoui when the latter line produced CNN’s feature documentary “The Bad Ass Librarians of Timbuktu,” directed by Otto Bell and based on a New York Times bestseller by Joshua Hammer. Bell is one O’Dea’s oldest friends and recommended Alaoui to him.
Jarecki is aware of the danger of cultural appropriation but believes that with the right safeguards this can be avoided.
He believes that films such as Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” and Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” has shown that audiences are open to new experiences, new worlds and non-English language productions.
Production finance for the “Tuareg project” is currently being put in place and the project aims to take advantage of Morocco’s 20% cash rebate scheme.
Alaoui has serviced several foreign productions in 2019, which in addition to “Bad Ass Librarians” include working with J. J. Abrams on TV series “Castle Rock,” season two, Simon Kinberg on “355,” starring Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard and Lupita Nyong’o, and Marvel Studios on “Black Widow,” directed by Cate Shortland and starring Scarlett Johansson, David Harbour and Rachel Weisz. In 2018 he line produced “Waiting for the Barbarians,” starring Johnny Depp, shot entirely in Marrakech.
Alaoui says that 2020 looks very promising for him, including Jarecki’s “Tuareg project” and an undisclosed TV series for Netflix.