By Alexandra Gritta
Rabat- On Thursday, March 22, there will be a screening of “Tinghir-Jerusalem, Echoes of the Mellah”—a documentary that reminisces on Jewish life in Tinghir, Morocco, and ruminates on the gradual disappearance of its Jewish community.
The screening will take place at New York’s Columbia University. Director Kamal Hachkar will be in attendance to answers any questions and facilitate discussion.
In an interview with Morocco World News, Hachkar clarified that, while there are economic, cultural, and political approaches to the issue, a conclusion is ultimately, “hard to reach […] the documentary deals more with nostalgic aspects, and is not meant to be scientific.”
Hachkar added that the documentary has been cause for controversy in Morocco, as it deals with aspects of discrimination against Jews. “Islamists wanted to censor the movie, but you cannot erase reality,” Hackhar notes. “My goal in making the documentary was to help repair the wounds created by harsh words, and bring to light certain truths.”
The documentary was first screened in 2012, and has been met with great success. In Morocco alone, Hachkar estimates that between 3-4 million people have seen the film. It has also been screened in major American cities like Seattle, Miami, and San Diego—to name a few.
Hachkar has said that between 200-300 people are expected to attend the sold-out event. While it addresses issues that are close to heart to the people of Tinghir and Jewish communities, Hackhar believes that the documentary also appeals to broader audiences.
“The values of the film are universal, and meant for everyone. It is a story about identity, roots, relationships, hope, and memoirs,” Hachkar explains.
Hachkar is a Amazigh Muslim born in the city of Tinghir in southeastern Morocco. He spent his childhood years in France, returning to Tinghir on holidays. At the time, he was largely unaware of the Jewish populations in his birthplace, but he developed an interest in the city’s Jewish heritage as he grew older, realizing that some of the city’s cultural aspects were disintegrating over time. Hachkar referred to Tinghir’s subsequent, “loss of diversity and pluralism […] due to the loss of its Jewish children.”
Currently, Hachkar is living between Marrakech and Paris, and is working on a new documentary called, “Return to the Native Country.” The documentary will follow a theme of “plurality” and explore new generations of Jewish and Muslim music artists.
Hachkar has also released another documentary under the name, “Tassanou Tayrinou” which discusses freedom of love and sexual expression.