” Cinema is a global structure of cultural production. It is also a complex and compound mode of expression but the most complete that humanity has been able to create so far. It is also, and essentially, a set of films, all genres included “. This is how the preface to “ Visual aesthetic thresholds »One more volume, of his work where Driss El Kerri, researcher, writer, professor of philosophy, art history and media, tells us about Moroccan cinema through his / these filmmakers.
The book is a collection of words from 28 Moroccan filmmakers. Their words take shape around twenty questions that were proposed to them. These answers, so rich, so diverse and so fundamental to understanding what cinema means for our “image makers”, were drafted and written by the filmmakers personally without direction, suggestion or constraint. They are neither commented on nor analyzed or interpreted in this fourth “ Visual aesthetics threshold “.
” This book should be a single book, in my series “Thresholds of Visual Aesthetics”. I intended to devote it to Moroccan cinema which is booming more than three decades ago. The great lack of bibliography on this cinema made me change my mind. Also, have I decided to devote three volumes on the national visual culture in its photographic, televisual and cinematographic forms », The writer tells us.
“We consider that getting our filmmakers to speak, on various and still relevant themes, would be an added value in the reflection on the fractured situation of our cinema”. Throughout the lines of this captivating work, we will readily remember this truth: ” The fact that Morocco lost more than 80% of cinemas, acquired after independence, is both dramatic and significant in relation to the order of priorities in the development strategy. Paradoxically, the noticeable, never decisive or spectacular evolution of national production seems futile and senseless, when Moroccan cinematographic films are only seen by less than 3% of the population (1,500,000 admissions in 2018 for almost 38,000 .000 inhabitants, in less than 30 cinemas. (CCM’s 2018 annual review) “
In Morocco, cinemas are part of a systematically striking absence of all institutions for the production and promotion of cultural and artistic industries, the author tells us. Computer illiteracy and image illiteracy in general are added to a classic illiteracy that neither the State nor civil society has been able to eradicate for more than 64 years after independence!
A country without cinema is a silent and blind country. He lacks the most relevant mirror in which he can look at himself effectively, to detect his resistances if not his inadequacies.
” We deliver to the reader the raw responses of 28 filmmakers as we received them. They were generous enough to respond to us within very different timeframes, ranging from 2 days to several weeks. Some filmmakers among those we contacted for more than two years refused to write their answers themselves even when we explained to them that the fact of writing “their own answers” is part of the challenges of this work and the value of the answers others “, the writer will say again.
The 28 filmmakers who have shed very significant light on Moroccan cinema are more than a simple sample of the Moroccan cinematographic body. They produced and realized a little more than 20% of the national production concretized since independence. They have made more than 110 feature-length fiction films, not to mention their short films and documentaries. His / these 28 filmmakers who in 20 questions / answers « say what cinema is for them »As a global art, represents the essence of the Moroccan cinematographic sphere which has campaigned so much, and persevered, to endow the country with a visual memory which remains unsatisfactory and insufficient.
From the first question ” what would you say if you were asked to define cinema », The answers are personal, beautiful or all bitterness to each his emotion his truth, his secret of the thing. For Leyla Triqui, “ cinema is a universal language, which creates an intermediate space where the sensitive and the intelligible meet in order to express a certain vision of the real or the imaginary “.
Latif Lahlou will say ” I try to reproduce a reality that I build in the likelihood “. For Hicham Lasri, “ cinema is a vast unexplored country whose language is a great tool for exploring both the extent of our dreams and the depth of our anxieties “. Azelarab Alaoui will say, ” cinema is a light that emerges from the past to illuminate the future. It is the only mode of creation that allows others to live with oneself, the dream simultaneously “.
As for the Moroccan director and screenwriter Mohamed Smaïl who died on Saturday evening March 20 in Casablanca at the age of 70, he wrote ” It is a platform for transmitting various facts, events and emotions in the form of images likely to influence the viewer. “.
But to the 20 questions, they are as many answers… each to its author to guide the reader in this labyrinth of the cinematographic sphere.
In conclusion Driss Kerry will make a sad observation. We will therefore appreciate this ” assessment for us who neither invented the cinema nor installed a global strategy, to integrate it into a national culture excluded, also, of the priorities of the mode of development which inspired the public policies since independence? “
These are 37 feature films that Morocco produced in 2019. This figure marks a record in the history of national production since the creation of the Moroccan Cinematographic Center (CCM) in 1944. The supervisory institution will have seen 8 directors. succeed its head. 60 years of Moroccan cinema history have passed, accumulating a production of just over 400 feature films.
And the Researcher wondered, ” Is this a sufficient number of films to make relevantly productive studies on the structures of our culture, our imagination and our visual arts supposed to be among the levers of our modernization process? “.
A meager balance sheet which represents only half of a year of production for an African country like Nigeria and obviously much less for others like European countries and Turkey for example. In this context, we refrain from comparing ourselves to the giants of world film production, such as Hollywood or Bollywood or China, which has tripled its production in 3 years to reach 686 films / year, i.e. more than one and a half times the amount. balance sheet of the CCM throughout its existence.