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Morocco: First animated films produced to honour cultural heritage

Moroccan animated film   -  
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The first Moroccan animated films have been produced. It was part of a test run commissioned in 2019 by Moroccan TV channels Al Oula and 2M, in partnership with FICAM, the international festival of animated films of Meknès.

"It is the first 100 percent Moroccan animated series, whether in terms of scriptwriting or technical capabilities, all of this is Moroccan from start to finish. This is an honour for us, because when we were young we always watched many foreign animated films such as Sally, Belle and Sebastian and Captain Majed, we have always wished to watch an animation produced by a Moroccan, and here the dream is starting to come true," says Dalila Drouicha, Production manager of Artcoustic studio.

Animation studio Artcoustic, along with Lorem and Neverseen - all based in Casablanca - will produce two series each.

A single series is made up of 20 to 30 episodes, each 3 to 5 minutes long, which individually cost 100,000 DH (9,500 euros).

It marks the very first stage of making Morocco a player in the world of animation.

"Currently we cannot talk about industry, but we can say that we are on the right path to have our own Moroccan industry, we cannot talk about industry because we do not have an old history in this field and we also do not have many projects that enable us to say that we have an industry," says Drouicha.

Scriptwriting alone took a year to do all the necessary research and run past the TV channels.

"The stages of production for a wide variety of animations, for example scriptwriting, storyboarding, character animation, sound mixing, it seems that these steps are the same as a film production, but the implementation of these stages for animation is more difficult, because the whole work depends on drawing and on fictional characters," says Yassine Oubaba, Editor at Artcoustic studio.

And the content of these films will honour the cultural heritage of the country.

"It is a series that brings together many Moroccan stories taken from the Moroccan culture, which we have reformulated and written in a way that suits the method of production and also suits the target audience. These stories include many lessons and they're an added value for the emerging generation who will discover these animations," says Oubaba.

Long-used to watching foreign TV content translated into Arabic, Moroccans will be able to watch animated films in their own dialect - a stepping stone for the Moroccan audiovisual industry.

"Choosing the Moroccan dialect because the target audience is the Moroccan audience, and the content of the series is Moroccan content, so it is not possible to talk to the Moroccan audience in a different language, but in the future, we could translate these works, because the positive thing about this production is that we can easily change the voice and choose any language we want, we are thinking about this, so that we can export Moroccan culture to the whole world," says Oubaba.

The 3D artists and cartoonists of the team either studied graphic design or taught themselves thanks to online tutorials.

Internal training is also provided - but more support for these professions is needed.

"As for the production of the animation series, one of the difficulties we face is the issue of training, because of the lack of training centres, we want to have more centres, so that we have new energies and more technicians so that we can then say that we have an animation industry," says Drouicha.

The first film will air in September 2022.

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