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Beyond Casablanca

M. A. Tazi and the Adventure of Moroccan Cinema

Kevin Dwyer

Publication Year: 2004

In Beyond Casablanca, Kevin Dwyer explores the problems of creativity in the Arab and African world, focusing on Moroccan cinema and one of its key figures, filmmaker M. A. Tazi. Dwyer develops three themes simultaneously: the filmmaker's career and films; filmmaking in postcolonial Morocco; and the relationship between Moroccan cinema, Third World and Arab cinema, and the global film industry. This compelling discussion of Moroccan cinema is founded upon decades of anthropological research in Morocco, most recently on the Moroccan film sector and the global film industry, and exhibits a sensitivity to the cultural, political, social, and economic context of creative activity. The book centers on a series of interviews conducted with Tazi, whose career provides a rich commentary on the world of Moroccan cinema and on Moroccan cinema in the world. The interviews are framed, variously, by presentations of Moroccan history, society, and culture; the role of foreign filmmakers in Morocco; thematic discussions of cinematic issues (such as narrative techniques, the use of symbols, film as an expression of identity, and problems of censorship); and the global context of Third World filmmaking.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-v

Contents

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pp. vii-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-

Among the many debts I incurred while carrying out this project over the period 1998–2003, I would like to acknowledge: —the National Endowment for the Humanities’ financial support (Grant #FB-35259-98) for the first year of research and the American University in Cairo for financial aid to attend Morocco’s national film...

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Introduction: Third World, Many Worlds

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pp. 1-19

A Third World filmmaker may smile wryly upon hearing the stock phrases “cinema is both an art and an industry” and “a film is both a creative product and a commodity.” He (or in rare cases she) might retort,“How can our cinema be considered an industry, our films commodities,when production financing usually...

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Chapter One: The Most Successful Moroccan Film Ever

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pp. 20-56

Unprecedented acclaim greeted the release of Looking for My Wife’s Husband in 1993: “The first entirely Moroccan film that makes us laugh . . . [with] much talent and subtlety,” “without doubt the best Moroccan film I’ve ever seen . . . the public, more than a thousand people . . . were all bursting with laughter,” “we rediscovered the pleasures...

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Interlude: Film’s Power and Function

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pp. 57-68

Looking’s success would indeed lead to a sequel and to a host of problems we will be exploring in chapter 5. For now, the strong contrast in Looking between its overall comic tone and the specter of potential tragedy at the end made me wonder exactly what kinds of experiences Tazi wanted to give spectators and what were his...

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Chapter Two: Building the National Cinema, Building a Career

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pp. 69-105

Tazi was in secondary school and not yet 14 years old when Morocco regained its independence in 1956 after forty-four years of French (and in some areas Spanish) colonial rule.1 Twenty-five years later, in 1981, as he was approaching the age of 40 and had just finished his first feature film, the Moroccan political system was...

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Interlude: A First Feature—The Big Trip (1981)

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pp. 106-119

The Big Trip’s Arabic title, Ibn as-Sabil (literally, son of the road) means “traveler” or “wayfarer.” Tazi noted that the term was used often in the Qur'an—some dozen times, he said—that it was frequently applied to orphans, and that, more generally, it connoted someone who needed protection. This is certainly true of...

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Chapter Three: Huston, Wise, Coppola, Camus . . . and Pasolini, Scorsese . . . and Some Others

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pp. 120-153

When Tazi returned from the United States in 1975, he knew it was impossible to earn a living making Moroccan feature films. He opened a production company in Rabat and began to make various kinds of films on contract—documentaries for government ministries, advertising clips for private enterprises, short films on social...

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Chapter Four: Badis (1989)

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pp. 154-197

After finishing The Big Trip in 1981, Tazi had hoped to make a feature-length fiction film every one or two years. However, eight years passed before his next film, Badis, appeared. Tazi was certainly disappointed with the delay but in one respect, at least, this second film was well worth the wait: it had great critical success, both...

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Interlude: Telling a Story—Narrative and Symbols

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pp. 198-210

One of the qualities that critics and viewers singled out when discussing Badis was that it told a good story very well.1 Tazi has already spoken here of how closely the story was connected to his own situation and how organically related it was to its symbolic elements. He invoked both these dimensions—narrative and symbolic...

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Chapter Five: The Other Side of the Wind, Almost

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pp. 211-242

By the mid-1990s, Tazi could look back with pride upon his two most recent films: Badis had been a great critical success (although at a moment when it was still difficult for a Moroccan film to have wide national distribution) and Looking had become the most popular film in Moroccan cinematic history. One might have thought...

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Interlude: Lalla Hobby—The Film

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pp. 243-261

...from Fez, repudiated his youngest wife Houda for the third time, making the divorce binding according to Islamic law. Regretting his rashness, he wants to remarry her but can legally do so only if she first marries another man and then gains a divorce from him. Houda’s marriage to a new husband is arranged and consummated but, before...

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Chapter Six: Reflections and Projections

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pp. 262-301

Toward the end of our interviews I wanted Tazi to take a synoptic view, to draw upon his four decades of professional experience, look back over his career as a whole, assess some of the major changes he had witnessed, and speculate on what the future might hold, both for Moroccan filmmaking and his own role within it. This discussion will lead the two of us to a crossroads and a parting...

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Conclusion: Future Flights of the Bumblebee

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pp. 302-343

Early in our talks, sitting across from me on the sofa in his study, Tazi had encapsulated the central paradox of Moroccan filmmaking by comparing it to the flight of the bumblebee, saying, “according to the laws of aeronautics, it’s impossible for that insect to fly. But bumblebees fly just the same! That’s just the way it is for our cinema . . . we can’t make films but, just the same, we make films!”...

Chronology

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pp. 345-350

Detailed Table of Contents

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pp. 351-361

Notes

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pp. 363-415

Bibliography

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pp. 417-421

Index

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pp. 423-433


E-ISBN-13: 9780253111111
E-ISBN-10: 0253111110
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253344625

Page Count: 448
Illustrations: 33 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2004