A film tackling homosexuality in Morocco shortlisted for the Oscars

The film can contribute to creating a healthy and necessary debate on this question which divides Morocco, believes its director, Maryam Touzani.

His second feature film tells the story of Halim and Mina, a close-knit and uneventful couple, but who live with a heavy secret: the husband’s homosexuality.

The film, Moroccan candidate for the Oscars, was selected last week among the 15 shortlisted feature films in the category best foreign film of the prestigious American competition.

It’s a huge honor to be able to represent Morocco and wear the country’s colors at this stage of the competition.Ms. Touzani told AFP.

The fact that my film represents Morocco is a step forward. The symbolism is beautiful and strong. This reflects a desire for openness and dialoguesays the director.

This progress is illustrated, according to her, by the fact that her film has been designated by an official commission, made up of film professionals, to represent Morocco at the Oscars.

A bold choice in a country where homosexuality, a largely taboo subject in a conservative society, divides public opinion and remains punishable by six months to three years in prison, according to the Penal Code.

It hurts me and hurts me to see people [de la communauté LGBT+] live hidden, in fear and that the expression of their love is stifled, denied and judgedlaments the 42-year-old director.

My film can contribute to creating a healthy, necessary and salutary debate on this questionshe hopes.

It is in the medina of Salé, a town neighboring the capital Rabat, that the life of Mina and Halim – played by Belgian actress Lubna Azabal and Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri – changes with the arrival of a young apprentice. in their workshop for making caftans, traditional Moroccan dresses.

The rapprochement between Youssef (played by Moroccan actor Ayoub Missioui) and his master tailor embarks them, along with Mina, on a new and plural experience of love.

We often tend to put labels on love stories, but my deep desire was to tell them without judging.explains Maryam Touzani, who won the international critics’ prize for her film at the Cannes Film Festival.

In the magic of fiction as in bitter reality, the director firmly believes that mindsets need to change.

And it is by changing mentalities that laws can evolve. I think we can’t condemn loveshe adds.

In Morocco, homosexuality is certainly penalised, but it is relatively less repressed than in other countries in the region, and prosecutions are not systematic.

The freedom to love belongs to usalready defended the filmmaker to AFP in November on the sidelines of the Marrakech International Film Festival where his feature film received the jury prize.

The other facet of the film is the promotion of the artisanal making of the caftan, a garment traditionally worn on special occasions in Morocco.

The film also explores the love of a profession, that of maalem [maître tailleur en dialecte arabe marocain, NDLR] which tends to disappear. The evolution of the story is done in parallel with the making of the caftanshe explains.

The blue of the caftan is the second film representing Morocco to be shortlisted for the Oscars after Omar killed me by Franco-Moroccan Roschdy Zem.

The final list of nominated films will be revealed on January 24.

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A film tackling homosexuality in Morocco shortlisted for the Oscars