During the extended discussion of a recent topic about American movies shot in Morocco and featuring the country in the storyline, many believed that Hollywood abuses Morocco during its film process more than it helps it. Babel was probably the main stimulus of the short debate given the controversy it apparently stirred among Moroccans. I don't remember the details of Babel vividly, but I certainly disagree with their conclusion. I didn't come out from the theater feeling that the two boys were portrayed as terrorists. It was clear in the movie that it was an accident caused by a dangerous play with guns. This can happen anywhere in the world, and it does happen, and people can even die because someone was playing or cleaning a gun. The American couple had their own odd reasons to take a vintage transport bus instead of their assigned modern and air conditioned buses. The screenwriter, perhaps inspired by cultures - and in our case by Morocco's deep mountains where even us Moroccans know little about - and looking for a twist chose to make the Moroccan storyline dramatic and fictional. But is it really far from reality or possibility? I don't think so. I think he portrayed a village in Morocco accurately. Lack of basic health care. Belief in natural healers and wizardry. And most important of all, he portrayed the people with kind and good hearts. People who outdid themselves to save the injured woman.
On top of this all, I found out later on that the main actors in the Moroccan thread of the story are regulars and not professional actors.
It just tells me something about the incredible expertise of foreign directors, producers and film staff. They are able to pick regular people, instruct and train them to act their piece. And these people, who weren't worth much in the eye of Moroccan society can suddenly deliver a performance of a lifetime. A performance better than most professional Moroccan actors can pull together.
So, I believe Morocco needs to host more and more movies unconditionally in hopes that young Moroccans who aspire to a career in film pick up foreign skills and use it to bring Moroccan cinema out of the dark ages.
But I'm sure many disagree with me. I know that those who engaged in the debate I mentioned earlier, Latif, Youness, rima, have compelling reasons why they think Hollywood abuses Morocco. Why Morocco should change its policy towards Hollywood. And most interestingly, what kind of topics, images, impressions, illustrations, stories you believe should foreigner film makers consider when making movies in Morocco? should Hollywood keep focusing on the Moroccan Texas or should it find its way into Moroccan urban life? Do you think Hollywood cares about Moroccan modern cities? about the Moroccan urbanites? or does Hollywood prefer the rugged and biblical-looking kind?
Babel (Trailer 2006)
The man who knew too much (1956)
The wind and the lion (1975)
The sheltering sky (this is such a deep and crazy movie)
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