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Censorship in Morocco: “Basta” (Stop)

February 18th, I thought that I will be writing an article on “475,”a short film about Amina Filali case, the   16 year-old girl who committed suicide after she was forced to marry her rapist.

About a year after Amina’s life, the film about her life was supposed to take place at the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH) office in Rabat.  Unfortunately, the showing was canceled because of technical reasons.

The alternative to Amina’s film was “Basta”. A film by “Guerilla Cinema”, a group of Young Moroccan activists who took their cameras and traveled all over the Kingdom to produce a short film about theaters in Morocco.

The group faced censorship while trying to produce their film. The film illustrates this censorship when it opens with scenes of metal barriers and chains

Everywhere they went, people told them: “You are not allowed to film here!” This kind of censorship came from ordinary citizens, not the government (L’Makhzen).

In one scene outside a cinema, a woman told the crew to stop filming because they received an order from the Royal Palace forbidding anyone to film here and that the place belongs to the King.

The film crew had rocks and chicken head thrown at them while trying to film in the souk in Tiflet. People insulted them.

The experience prompted the crew to film “Basta,’’ a short film about the challenges facing cinema in Morocco. They raised an important question: How can you develop the Moroccan Movie Industry if you don’t have the right to film?

“If you want to be a filmmaker you need to practice, but you can’t without an authorization,” said Hamza Mahfoudi (Director of Photography, Basta).

This Authorization is issued by the Moroccan Center of Cinematography (CCM) and the Moroccan Ministry of Interior. It is only issued to legal entities, not to individuals.

Without this authorization, a filmmaker risks his film career and the likelihood of going to jail.

The need for authorization to film violates the new Moroccan constitution (Article 25) which guarantees free of expression and artistic creation.

As a GlobalGirl and as a beginner in video making, I know how this is discouraging.

Decades ago, cinema theatres were open in every city in Morocco with more than 250 of them all around the country (50 in Casablanca).

After independence, people used cinema to educate, raise awareness and promote citizen and democratic values that are the fundamentals to every modern nation.

We need to democratize the film industry so we can create a better society for us and the next generation.

After this football game, this is how I feel as a Moroccan.

It’s been a real long time since we had an homogeneous Moroccan National Football Team. A homogeneity that we’ve been able to feel among our national team players during this game against the Mozambique.

So now, I have a question: Is it with Moroccan coaches or foreign coaches that we were able to get the best results? Since my first memories, and according to my empirical observations, it is definitely with the Moroccan coaches !

But I am a bit skeptical about the next games of our “Atlas Lions”. I fear that they don’t keep their feet on the ground and get an excess of self confidence, which can have in my opinion negative repercussions on their performance.

I must also say that the moments where I’m proud of my country are very rare, and Zaki & its selection were the first to make me proud of my country. I am a patriot, but the only moments that I can feel proud of my country is when our Moroccan National Football wins with great results and performance.

This is due to the situation of Morocco on the economic side and specially on the social and ethnological sides, but I’m not writing today to talk about the pain that we carry with us as Moroccan but I’m writing today to say that the “Atlas Lions” have made me proud and, believe me, I’m not the only one.

Football in Morocco is not just a national sport, but it’s the opportunity for once and for all Moroccans to feel proud of being Moroccan.