When it comes to the film industry, Morocco isn’t just home to countless Hollywood film sets (from Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator to Game of Thrones) it’s also home to it’s own equally impressive film industry, to have been filmed there.
If you’re not already familiar, these are the best Moroccan films to get acquainted with.
Myriam Touzani’s Adam was surrounded by Oscar buzz upon its release in 2019, and for good reason. The film tells the story of Samia, a young woman who finds herself pregnant out of wedlock and is taken in by a widow in a Moroccan village.
Horses of God
Based on Moroccan writer Mahi Binebine’s novel The Stars of Sidi Moumen, Nabil Ayouch’s 2012 feature film Horses of God takes a deep look into the 2003 Casablanca bombings (a series of suicide bombings that still stand as the deadliest terrorist attack in the country’s history.
Directed and written by Hamid Benani, the 1970 film Wechma, is the perfect introduction to Moroccan cinema. The film tells the story of Messaoud, a young boy who finds himself rebelling against society and delving into a life full of crime and disappointment.
Nabil Ayouch’s 2000 drama looks into Morocco’s impoverished youth. The film tells the story of young homeless boys living in Casablanca’s streets, touching on themes of pain, child abuse and prostitution along the way.
Looking for a Moroccan comedy to watch? Headbang Lullaby is it. The 2017 film, directed by Hicham Lasri, follows the story of a cop, Daoud, who is sent to spend a day on a bridge outside of Casablanca—the border between two hostile neighbourhoods—ahead of a visit from the Moroccan king.
You might have already heard of Morocco’s ultra-influential band, Nass El Ghiwane. Ahmed El Maanouni’s 1981 documentary Trances dives deep into their work, featuring footage from their concerts, interviews with the band members and archival footage.
Having screened at Cannes Film Festival in 2005, Marock quickly became controversial. The film was Laila Marrakchi’s first feature length film, centred around a young Muslim-Jewish couple. With Judeo-Muslim relations being a taboo subject at the time, the film made a major mark on society.
A Thousand Months
Set during the holy month of Ramadan, this Faouzi Bensaidi feature is a must-watch. The film tells the story of a woman and her son, trailing her life after her husband becomes a political prisoner—a secret that she must keep from her son.
A Thousand and One Hands
Also released in the 1970s, Souhel Ben Barka’s A Thousand and One Hands, was amongst the films that marked the beginnings of Morocco’s contemporary film industry. The film provides insight into Moroccan society and touches on themes of revenge and motivation, telling the story of Moha and his song Miloud, who run a fabric dying business, only for Moha to fall ill and unable to work and Miloud left to run the dying business.