Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Moroccan Muslims may react badly to new film

Director Mohamed Ismail's film Goodbye Mothers (to be premiered this month) is expected to spark controversy in Morocco: it tells the story of co-existence between two Moroccan families – one Jewish and the other Muslim – in a Casablanca neighbourhood during the 1960s, amidst the push of local Jews to emigrate to Israel. Magharebia.com reports:

"Sources close to Maya Film, the company producing the film, expressed the studio's fear of negative reactions from Moroccan Muslims. Director Mohammad Ismail completed the final touches so that it will be ready for screening at the 9th National Festival of Moroccan Cinema in Tangier on October 18th. It is expected to hit Moroccan movie theatres at the end of this year.

"The film, shot mostly in Casablanca and Tetouan, depicts the situation of Moroccan Jews during the period known as the "Black Years of Emigration," when there was a pervading sense of hesitation between two conflicting desires: remaining in Morocco or uprooting themselves to emigrate.

"The director said the significance and richness of events in the 1960s prompted him to direct this film. "Goodbye Mothers", he added, depicts an ideal love for another, without any discrimination. "This is what we want to call on everyone to believe inside them: hope that one day we shall see co-existence in one place," he said.

"We carefully selected decorations where the events of the film will take place, in different cities which witnessed major Jewish population concentrations in the past," he said. "This is a factor that enhances the realism of the film. We shot in some of the places left behind by the Jews who had emigrated. There are lively decorations as if the occupants of those places left them only yesterday."

"Mohammad Ismail's film is one of a number of films that try to examine relations between Muslims and Jews in Morocco and the emigration of Jews to Israel. In his film "Fin machi a Mouchi," director Hassan Benjelloun discussed what he called the great exodus of Morocco's Jews in the wake of Morocco's independence and their emigration to Israel and to other countries, such as Canada and France.

"While Benjelloun's treatment of the subject has been rather historical, director Laila Marrakchi's film Marock, a love story between a Jewish young man and a Moroccan girl from an aristocratic family, sparked a great deal of discussion for its treatment of religion and the relation between Jews and Muslims. The film drew a great deal of criticism both from critics and the public. However, Marrakchi insisted on her viewpoint that the film represents a call for tolerance and co-existence.

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