Morocco’s best-known international director, Nabil Ayouch, is currently in Marrakech filming a stark social drama about prostitution, reports Variety. Following on from God’s Horses, which profiles a group of young men growing up in poverty, Ayouch’s current project is about four marginalized women prostitutes living in Marrakech.
The film is a Franco-Moroccan coproduction, involving New District, a new Moroccan new company based in Casablanca, Ayouch’s production company, Ali n’ productions, and French production houses, Barney productions and Les Films du Nouveau Monde (which also co-produced God’s Horses and My Land).
“I decided to keep the budget low in order to safeguard my freedom of expression,” explains Ayouch.
Although prostitution is a widespread phenomenon in Morocco, it’s also a social taboo. Ayouch presented the project twice to the Moroccan Cinema Centre (CCM), but was turned down on both occasions and so he decided to proceed alone.
He began researching the topic 18 months ago, initially interviewing prostitutes in Marrakech and ended up interviewing more than 100 prostitutes in Casablanca, Rabat and Tangier, talking about their personal backgrounds and what led them onto the streets.
“I want to go beneath the surface and show the real lives of these women, who are treated extremely badly. Many people come to Marrakech for sex -- from the Gulf countries, from Europe. They treat these women extremely badly. They have a kind of superiority complex -- just because they have money they think they can buy everything.”
The film will demonstrate the relationship between prostitutes and their families and society in general, including the way that certain families push children into prostitution.
As in his previous feature, God’s Horses, misery and poverty play a big part, as well as personal accidents of fate. But instead of leading to external violence, via bombings, the female prostitutes suffer the inner violence associated with their plight.
“In both cases, the main characters are marginalised. I’ve always been attracted by this theme. It’s very close to me -- trying to depict the army that lives in the shadows. People who have lots of things to say and express. We normally don’t want to hear them -- even if what they have to say is very important.”
Principal photography began in late October and is due to finish on December 15. There is a medium-size crew, with technicians from Morocco, France , Belgium and Tunisia. Each scene is shot using between two to three Sony PMW-F55 CineAlta 4K cameras.
Ayouch has chosen a very realistic shooting style, which he describes as “fictions du réel”. The cast is a mixture of professional and non-professional actors, and much of the dialogue is improvised.
“At present we’re seeing a new kind of filmmaking from the US and Europe, that makes us believe that we’re in the middle of reality. People don’t normally expect to see this style of filmmaking from the Arab world,” he says.
Ayouch has also recently received a $500,000 grant from the CCM for his next feature film project, Razzia, penned by God’s Horses scribe Jamal Belmahi.
Razzia is very different from Expired. It’s a sci-fi pic about how the Arab world will look fifty years from now.
Ayouch is working with architects, and combining matte paintings and 3D special effects to make the city featured in the plot look like a mixture of traditional and high-tech buildings.
The plot focuses on a tiny, privileged elite living in high-security enclaves cut off from the poor masses -- with one main character from each background.