Nabil Ayouch Launches Europe-Africa Border Thriller ‘Blackout’ (EXCLUSIVE)

MADRID — Nabil Ayouch (“Horses of God,” “Much Loved,” “Razzia”), one of the foremost Arab World filmmakers, is preparing “Blackout,” a real-time, near-future social-issue thriller drama series set on the border of Europe and Africa in and around Ceuta, one of Spain’s enclaves in Morocco.

“Black-Out” is set up at Ayouch’s Paris-based Les Films du Nouveau Monde and Casablanca label “Ali N’ Productions – which backed his latest two movies “Razzia,” a 2017 Toronto Platform premiere and Moroccan Academy Award entry, and upcoming “We Will Be Reborn,” a realist hip-hop musical. It is one of the potential highlights among 16 drama series projects to be pitched next week in Cannes at this year’s second and expanded In Development, a joint venture of MipTV and Canneseries.

Moroccan broadcast network 2M has boarded the project.

Given that Ceuta is an integral part of Spain, so the European Union, the highly-fortified Ceuta border fence, consisting of two 20-foot fences and a road between them, is one of the only two land borders between Europe and Africa. It already suffers breaches, on one occasion in 2017 by about 600 immigrants, mostly from Sub-Sahara Africa.

Taking place over one night – eight hours in eight hour episodes – “Blackout” imagines a near future scenario where Ceuta barrier fence will have been electrified. When a large power outage plunges Ceuta into blackout, the barrier falls, and the thousands of migrants camping outside Ceuta sweep into the city.

The narrative will mix action and character introspection, focusing on six characters, Ayouch said, citing two: Pilar de la Barca, general officer of Ceuta Guardia Civil, who has dedicated her life to her work, neglecting her husband and adolescent daughter, but who discovers “her soul, heart and sensitivity” once called on to defend the city; Thialé, a former Nigerian child-soldier famed for his courage who, once in Ceuta, meets Awa, a Senegalese woman, there to find her little sister and take her back to Senegal. Thialé abandons his dream of getting to Europe, his destiny changed.

Spoken in Spanish, Moroccan and French, “Blackout” is currently being written by Ayouch, filmaker-actress Maryam Touzani (“Aya Goes to the Beach”), a co-writer of “Razzia,” and cineast Rita El Quessar (“Once Upon a Time”). The series project has a bible.

Avouch will direct and produce with Moroccan partner Amine Benjelloun.

Coming in on migration, as well as real attitudes to migration, from a novel angle, “Black-Out” asks important questions, Ayouch said: “When the gates open and man is face to face with himself, when there is no longer any law, when fear of the other takes over, when supposed paradise reaches out to some and supposed hell awaits the others, where will we still seek the means to remain lucid? Should we shoot, negotiate, barricade ourselves? Should we kill, hide, run?”

He added: “Is morality still an issue when, on each side of the barrier, your future and that of your kin is at stake?

Ayouch, Touzani and El Quassar will present “Blackout” at In Development. Benjelloun will attend MipTV to hold meetings. Their priority is to meet with potential Spanish partners at Cannes, Avouch said.

CREDIT: Nabil Ayouch

More TV

  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers

    How to Watch Packers-49ers Online: Live Stream

    Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are looking for their first Super Bowl championship in nearly a decade. But first, they need to beat a mighty San Francisco 49ers team in the 2020 NFC Championship Game. Held at Levi Stadium in San Francisco, the Packers-Niners game kicks off at 3:40 p.m. PT and will [...]

  • Michael Ellenberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon,

    'The Morning Show' Team on Steve Carell's Season 2 Future, Season 1 Criticism

    Although the first season of “The Morning Show” ended on Steve Carell’s former news anchor character, Mitch Kessler, who was fired at the top of the season amid sexual misconduct allegations, finally feeling the weight of what he did, there is no guarantee the second season will see him learn, grow or be around at [...]

  • Kumail Nanjiani

    Kumail Nanjiani on Not Wanting 'Little America' to Focus on the Political System

    Apple TV Plus’s anthology drama “Little America” may not be about politics, but by telling tales of immigrants in a polarizing time, many people feel there is a political undercurrent to its themes. “It is amazing that we are living in a time where kindness, empathy, humanity and shared experience feels like a political statement,” [...]

  • Apple TV Plus Renews 'Mythic Quest:

    Apple TV Plus Renews 'Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet' Ahead of Series Premiere

    Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Megan Ganz’s “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet” has been renewed for a second season ahead of its series debut, Apple TV Plus announced Sunday. The half-hour comedy follows a team of developers as they navigate the challenges of running a popular video game. It was inspired by McElhenney’s visit to Ubisoft’s [...]

  • Apple TV Plus Home Before Dark

    Apple TV Plus Mystery 'Home Before Dark' Renewed for Season 2 Ahead of Series Premiere

    “Home Before Dark,” Apple TV Plus’ mystery series inspired by the real-life reporting of 9-year-old investigative journalist Hilde Lysiak, has nabbed an early Season 2 renewal ahead of its series premiere on April 3. Directed and executive produced by Jon M. Chu and created by showrunners and exec producers Dana Fox and Dara Resnik, the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content