“I belong to a generation that suffered ... if you needed a book to read, you had to go to a library which was far away. In other words, it was time and energy consuming,” Lasri told MWN.
Rabat – Hicham Lasri is a Moroccan filmmaker who, even at an early age, had released many television and cinematic works. The majority of his works raise controversy, which is especially clear in his capsules on YouTube, like “No Vaseline Fatoua” and “Bessara Overdose.”
With “Jahiliya,” Lasri made his fourth participation in the Berlin film festival last year. Lasri is a prolific filmmaker, typically making one feature-length film per year. His pieces include “The End,” “The Sea is Behind,” and “Starve Your Dog.”
In an hour-long telephone interview with Morocco World News, Lasri opened up about his childhood, his inspirations, and his ambitions for the future.
You studied law before you moved to script writing and film directing. When did your passion for cinema start?
I was brought up in a family interested in culture and art. My parents’ love of music, theater, and painting encouraged me to express myself and my artistic interests. I started painting at the age of three.
My love for cinema appeared when I used to watch movies; this hobby was an obstacle that challenged me to make my own cinematic work. At that time, I was writing some plays and some film scripts.
I also attended many scriptwriting and cinematography workshops around the world for about five years. As there weren’t institutes of cinema in Morocco, I came up with new ideas to allow more creativity in the field of the cinema.
What is the link between scriptwriting and filmmaking for TV as well as YouTube capsules?
I think that all my works gather around challenging the society and the real life in order to be different and get out of the ordinary concepts. For me, the important thing is creativity for the sake of creativity, philosophically speaking.
You have to know that the idea of capsules took me back to the internet which I cut down for about five years. This virtual world is very important nowadays, because it provides me with the needed materials, especially in my job.
As you know, I belong to a generation that suffered a great deal. For example, if you needed a book to read, you had to go to a library which was far away. In other words, it was time and energy consuming. I used to record my favorite music tracks on tapes of 60 or 90 minutes.
I used all the books I read and music I listened to to create my own cinematographic working style. Therefore, I chose to go back to the world of the internet and thus, the idea of comic capsules emerged.
Why are your films not screened in local cinemas, festivals and some language and cultural centres?
I have a personal conviction that I believe in my own work. I prefer screening my films in international festivals to be watched by thousands of people from different countries in very good circumstances, I mean new cinemas that use new technologies, that allow the spectators to enjoy the film more rather than to be presented in an area that lacks the minimum equipment, such as the sound system or the image.
My works are not designed to be commercialized. My purpose is that my films could travel around the world. I make a lot of effort, I read a lot to come up with something very special in every single work.
Your long films deal with stories from the 70s, 80s, and 90s like the death of King Hassan II and the “baguette crisis.” Are you trying to reconstruct scenes from your childhood or are you simply in love with those periods?
I consider every film of those periods as a recovery from past wounds and suffering. I tried to mix between the suffering and the happy and glorious moments, such as the victory of Said Aouita and Nawal Moutaoukel … Through these heroes we live the moments.
However I consider my childhood as a happy and peaceful one. Of course, not all the moments were happy, but I had that feeling of love and protection within my family.
Your capsules on the internet raise a lot of controversy. What is the purpose behind them?
The digital world is a big field of experiments that work on new characters, just like the writings of Oscar Wild were based on mocking some behaviors and convictions.
So through “no Vaseline Fatoua” we tried to mock those people who consider themselves as religious advisors that have never been to school or done any religious training. So, I invite them to start education which is one of the pillars of the Islamic religion.
Are you moving toward creating a modern type of cinema that is not based on the dialogue itself, but based on different components to the successful script?
Relying on the dialogue is not always considered as a problem, because there are many outstanding film directors that were interested in the dialogue in their films like Sydney Lumet.
But one should not rely too much on the dialogue, because it will create a problem in the dramatology as Alfred Hitchcock said. Generally speaking, a good film depends on characters, not on dialogues, because the deleted items from a script are more important than the remaining ones.
You have given the first roles to some Moroccan actors like Hassan Badida and Malek Akhmiss and Saleh Bensaleh. What did you notice as special in these actors?
I consider these actors as people who accepted the challenge as the roles they played depended on physical efforts. They are really hard working; with their help we break the Moroccan stereotypes in filmmaking, and we go beyond the concrete towards something unusual.