Nabil Ayouch • Director
"Exploring the battles fought by the silent majority"
by Fabien Lemercier
- TORONTO 2017: After the sensational Much Loved, Nabil Ayouch returns to Toronto with Razzia, world premiering in the Platform competition section at Toronto
Razzia [+see also:
interview: Nabil Ayouch
film profile] is the sixth feature film by Nabil Ayouch, whose last two films were presented at Cannes (God's Horses [+see also:
interview: Nabil Ayouch
film profile] in the Un Certain Regard section in 2012 and Much Loved [+see also:
film profile] at the Directors' Fortnight in 2015). Headed up by the Parisian company Unité de Production with Belgium and Morocco, Razzia is being sold internationally by Playtime (formerly Films Distribution).
Cineuropa: Were did you get the idea from for such an ambitious project that sees the lives of five characters in Morocco woven together across two decades, in both 1982 and 2015?
Nabil Ayouch : Up until now my films have always focused on the marginalised, whether it was Ali Zaoua, God’s Horses or Much Loved. I wanted to get into something with this film that summarised things a bit more; a summary of the years that I've spent here, a summary of all of the people I've seen, that I've met and that constitute the majority, a silent majority. I wanted to explore the individual problems faced by said silent majority during a pivotal period, the early 80s, during which the film, located in the mountains, begins and which was a time in which both teaching and education underwent a period of Arabisation.
The film is then also linked to Casablanca in 2015 where the four other main characters are introduced. Why did you choose those characters in particular?
The film is about what touches me when I meet people, and they represent the problematic people that have touched me. A Jewish conservation professional who lives in denial and in an idealised world that he would like to be able to both coexist and to be brotherly. A young person from the popular suburbs of Medina who dreams of becoming a rock star but is hindered by both her neighbourhood and her father. A young teenager who you'd think has everything they want but who really only wants one thing: to be a part of a plural and diverse Morocco, but who finds herself completely cut off and isolated. Finally, a woman who fights a sort of resistance on a daily basis, as a couple in society, and who embodies for me an entire generation of women who aren’t just Moroccan or Muslim, but who, beyond that, are also embodied by this woman who decides to reclaim a space, her space, both in the public and private realms. I realised that they’ve all touched me in their own way. I'll have met them all at some point in the past 18 years that I've lived here and I just wanted to talk about them.
What were your intentions with the mise-en-scène?
I wanted to create a fairly simple mise-en-scène, which brought my characters' emotions to the foreground, as they’re all touching and moving human beings. And also because they have a certain fragility that we had to really search for, in the way that we chose to film them, observe them, and to approach them within with the context that surrounds them. That choice was made permanent throughout the filming process. What isn’t necessarily obvious is the fact that I wanted to find them in their own intimacy, while at the same time they all make up single components of a whole picture. That's where the complexity of the film lies: they are each on a personal journey and at the same time said journey is more widespread and sometimes reaches further than just the one person, especially in the last part of the film.
What about the permanent tension in the film and the violence that ends up breaking out?
It dangles by a thread; the characters are fairly precariously balanced. You sense that it could tilt, but it doesn't: it just hangs in the balance. At the end, it explodes because I believe that these days we all live in fear in a society in which we're evolving, just like the characters in the film,. At one time or another, these fears explode and express themselves as a kind of catharsis which is, in my opinion, extremely significant for the times we live in. Obviously it's not a question of encouraging any form of violence whatsoever. It's about saying that violence exists among us, that it is there whether we like it or not, that it is a means of expression and that we must be wary of it. But at the same time, sometimes, to bottle violence up inside oneself, to repress it, saves a lot less than letting it out and expressing ourselves, precisely because violence tells us things about the times that we live in.
(Translated from French)
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