20/05/2013

They Are the Dogs, a tragic, poetic fable in Casablanca past and present

Moroccan director Hicham Lasri's second feature premieres in Cannes' ACID section

Events and Festivals, Industry, Morocco

They Are the Dogs, a tragic, poetic fable in Casablanca past and present

After Nabil Ayouch's God's Horses screening at Cannes' Un Certain Regard last year, Moroccan cinema is back on the Croisette this year with two films: Brahim Fritah's Playground Chronicles in the Cannes Cinéphiles section, and They Are the Dogs, Hicham Lasri's second feature after The End.

The film, screened in the festival's ACID programme, is produced by none other than Nabil Ayouch and his production company Ali n' Films.

They Are the Dogs follows three members of a television crew as they set off to report on social movements in Morocco. Intrigued by the appearance and strange behaviour of Majhoul (played by Hassan Badida), the presenter, cameraman and intern (played by Yahya El Fouandi, Lmad Fijjai and Jalal Boulftaim) decide to focus their report on him.

Between a car chase and an investigation into the lost, forgotten past, the television crew will attempt to learn more about this man who has just been released from prison 30 years after a police raid during Morocco's 1981 food riots, and who is completely lost in a modern Morocco in the midst of the Arab Spring.

Told from an interesting point of view, that of a television report, the film seems to fluctuate between fiction and documentary. Shot camera on shoulder over several weeks in the streets of Casablanca, They Are the Dogs is a"provoking, guerilla" film according to its director. Playing on the urgency of the news report, it approaches its Kafkaesque landscape with intentionally chaotic aesthetics.

Thanks to its attention to sound and depth of field, the film shows Majhoul's point of view and that of his blurred reality catapulted without transition from one revolution to another, after 30 years of reclusion. As the television crew's camera sets off to find his family, it adopts Majhoul's point of view, that of a destroyed, voiceless character, but who nevertheless has a few vices.

They Are the Dogs is a cry of anger from a man attempting to have a traumatic experience valued by a society that takes pleasure in veiling the darkest moments of its history, reports Critikat. When the events of 1981 are repeated, Majhoul takes a stand against an experience that turned him into a victim, one that makes everyone complicit with a [non-democratic] state system repeatedly boasted as a model of democracy.

The film was made as part of the Film Industry, a partnership programme between Ali n' Production and Moroccan television and radio broadcaster SNRT, under the patronage of the ministry of communication, as part of which 42 feature films are to be produced and whose aim is to promote genre films in Morocco and to make film production more professional, explains Moroccan press agency MAP.

 

An interview with the director will soon be available to watch on the Euromed Audiovisual website.

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