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Morocco: A new generation of filmmakers inspires with wins at Cannes

Moroccan director Asmae El Moudir, with the cast of her film "Kadib Abyad" (The Mother of All Lies) at the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival.   -  
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A new generation of Moroccan filmmakers are inspiring youth after winning three prestigious awards at last month's Cannes Film Festival in France.

For her film "Kadib Abyad" ("The Mother of All Lies"), Asmae El Moudir won the director's prize in the Un Certain Regard section, while Kamal Lazraq won the Jury prize for his feature film "Les Meutes"("Hounds").

"The Moroccan films screened at Cannes represent some of the best in the history of cinema in Morocco," said film critic Bilal Marmid, who covered the two-week festival on the French Riviera.

Moroccan history

Moudir, 32, explored her family's history in her documentary, which focused on Morocco's so-called Years of Lead, a period from the 1960s to the 1980s which was characterized by the repression of poitical dissidents under King Hassan II. 

Without access to archival footage from the time, the director built a miniature set that recreated her childhood neighbourhood in Casablanca with figurines to narrate her family's story against the backdrop of the bloody suppression of the city's "bread riots" in June 1981.

"Making this film took me 10 years and allowed me to reconcile with this past, even if it was violent," says Moudir, whose family members were featured in the film.

"A dream come true"

For Lazraq, 38, being at Cannes was "a childhood dream come true". His film also features Casablanca as the setting for "a feverish road movie" with its protagonists played by two non-professional actors, Ayoub Elaid and Abdellatif Masstouri.

"I like to start on a blank page and build the film with my actors because they bring a lot from their life and experiences," says Lazraq. "I try to leave them a certain amount of freedom to create something authentic and intense."

Inspiring Moroccan youth

The filmmakers hope their films will inspire local youth to embark on career in filmmaking. "The films are all very, very different... I hope it will encourage young people to embark on this adventure," says Lazraq.

In Rabat, the ISCA film school is providing students with the skills needed to get into the industry. Asmaa El Alaoui, director and head of the ISCA film school in Rabat, said the country's latest success at Cannes was a huge encouragement to students.

"They know now that it's possible, that with work, patience and passion, they can make it," she said.

There are already signs of success for the next generation. Zineb Wakrim, a 22-year-old director was awarded third place in the student film award La Cinef at Cannes for her short film "Ayyur" ("Moon" in Amazigh, Morocco's Berber language).

Seeking to support and promote its national cinema, Morocco has spent 60 million dirhams (about 5.5 million euros) annually on productions since 2012.

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