By Youssef El Kaidi
Morocco World News
Fez, February 14, 2013
After an absence of five years, the director of Le Harem de Madame Osmane (2000), Viva Laldjérie (2004), and Délice Paloma (2007), the Franco-Algerian film director, Nadir Moknèche, returns with a feature film under the title Good Bye Morocco produced by Bertrand Gore and Nathalie Mesuret and released in French cinemas on Wednesday February 13.
Banned from shooting in Algeria since the release of his Délice Paloma in 2007 in which he denounces and exposes corruption, Nadir Moknèche decided to shoot his fourth feature film Good Bye Morocco in Tangier, Morocco; the city that symbolizes for him “the in-between, the border, the gateway to Europe, the pre-Islamic past…”
Starred by Loubna Azabal, Rasha Bukvic, Faouzi Bensaidi, Grégory Gadebois, and Ralph Amoussou; the film addresses complex social and cultural issues such as women’s rights, inter-religious marriage, homosexuality, etc.
As it is characteristic of most accented filmmakers, to use the term of the Iranian critic Hamid Naficy, Nadir Moknèches in this film touches upon themes of exile, identity, and cultural antagonism, as well as on the question of inter-religious marriage and its implications.
The film traces the journey of Dounia who divorced from her first husband with a child to fully live her love experience with her lover Dimitri, a Serbian architect in Tangier, against the will of her mother and her best friend. This love affair is scandalous in the eyes of Dounia’s family and society, since it represents her rebellion against her cultural values. In retaliation, her ex-husband denied her custody of their boy.
Dounia and Dimitri run a real estate site where excavation work uncovered fourth century Christian tombs ornamented with precious frescoes. Dounia, who cannot stand being away from her child, embarks on the lucrative trafficking of the Christian artifacts hoping to win quickly enough to leave Morocco with her son and her lover. To her disillusionment, the disappearance of Gabriel, one of the construction workers, jeopardizes her projects and thwarts her dream of escape.
In this feature film, Nadir Moknèche rediscovers the Belgian actress Loubna Azabal with whom he worked eight years ago in Viva Laldjérie. Loubna in this film plays the role of Dounia, a strong woman who is ready to do anything to retrieve her child. “I cannot write an Arab female character otherwise. It is clear that the status of women is constantly questioned. It is the constant obsession of Muslim societies,” says Nadir Moknèche.
By addressing complex issues in a nonlinear way that complicates the story yet also gives it more intensity, Nadir Moknèche wants to trigger the cognitive and contemplative dimensions of the viewer. He says in this regard: “The non-linear construction seems to be a very effective tool because it allows keeping the viewer in a constant state of suspense.”
Excellently deploying the elements of a Hitchcockian black tragedy, especially music, the film touches upon the complexities of a tough world where corruption, social exploitation, war between sexes, and the North-South antagonism overlap to give an uncompromising and unvarnished portrait of contemporary Morocco.
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