The nineteenth Marrakech International Film Festival (FIFM) pays tribute to a great figure of Moroccan cinema: Farida Benlyazid. On November 15, at Place Jemaâ El Fna, the public warmly welcomed this accomplished screenwriter and the first Moroccan woman to embark on the production of a film.
The nineteenth Marrakech International Film Festival (FIFM) pays tribute to a great figure of Moroccan cinema: Farida Benlyazid. On November 15, at Place Jemaâ El Fna, the public warmly welcomed this accomplished screenwriter and the first Moroccan woman to embark on the production of a film. On November 16, at the Palais des Congrès, the FIFM celebrated with great fanfare the artist who has inspired many directors, actresses and women in the world of cinema.
Farida Belyazid, a sharp look at society
Behind his cold tunes hides a sensitive soul that manifests itself through his creations. In his films, we discover several profiles of women, perhaps these are the different facets of his personality. Farida calls herself “a woman committed to the women’s cause”. “It’s obvious to talk about women. We best express what we feel,” she confided during a meeting with the press on November 16 as part of the FIFM. This icon of Moroccan cinema challenges the stereotypes placing Muslim women in the category of “submissive and illiterate”. “Even if they are illiterate, Moroccan women have a fabulous memory and oral culture”. With a sharp eye, Farida Benlyazid questions various societal issues. In her fiction “Keid Ensa” (Women’s Tricks) inspired by a popular tale, she deals with the eternal confrontation between the two sexes while highlighting female intelligence.
Benlyazid’s films want to be a mirror of Moroccan and North African society. The comedy “Looking for my wife’s husbandfor which she wrote the screenplay quickly became a cult film dealing with polygamy. “Comedy can be extraordinary and can convey messages better than drama as long as you deal with the subject in depth,” she said. Her film “Bâb es-sama’ maftûh” (The Door to Heaven), released in 1988, depicts a women’s spirituality far removed from orthodox (masculine) religious dictates, on the one hand, and feminist slogans, from the other. The film, selected in many international festivals, has an intercontinental career and is debated. A free and independent artist, Farida Benlyazid says she is happy to belong to a generation motivated by a passion for cinema. “We were struggling to find the money to produce films, but we weren’t looking for the money. We were looking for the expression of what we want to do. Currently, money is taking on dramatic dimensions, but it is global”.
Inspirational stories for cinema
The artist who paved the way for many Moroccan women directors never stops looking for subjects that can raise awareness in society and highlight inspiring stories. After writing the script for the biopic “Fatema: La Sultane unforgettable” (2022) for director Mohamed Abderrahman Tazi, she embarked on a documentary project on the Moroccan sociologist and feminist Fatema Mernissi for which she signs the screenplay, “In the footsteps of Fatema”. “In ‘Fatema: The Unforgettable Sultane’, I respected Abderrahmane Tazi’s vision, but you can make thousands of films about Fatema. In my documentary on Fatema Mernissi, I want to paint a portrait through people’s eyes. I talk about the people she worked with. I want to show their emotions and let them tell how they see Fatema
I did location scouting in Tazenakht, Zagoura… based on the book “Les Sindbads Marocains” by F. Mernissi. I will soon see the production managers to relaunch the documentary delayed because of the Covid 19”, she told us. Farida Benlyazid also hopes to portray other Moroccan personalities like Mehdi Menjra and Tayeb Saddiki. Another subject close to his heart: the degeneration of humanism. “I am overwhelmed by transhumanism. It is terrible for humanity. People are more and more passive in front of their screens and are losing their memory.
Declaration of Farida Benlyazid
“I am happy to receive the tribute from the Marrakech International Film Festival, especially since the 2022 edition is like a rebirth. It is the consecration of several years of work. Today, I am happy to see the evolution of women in the cinema sector in Morocco. There are more and more women directors, women in the image, in the sound… and they are excellent.”