With its breathtaking landscapes, North Africa has long-played a significant role as the backdrop for some of the world’s biggest movies, with desolate desert towns like Tétouan serving as the perfect set for blockbusters like Star Wars.
But even though the region’s landscapes might have caught the attention of filmmakers from across the globe, the North African film industry itself has yet to reach global heights.
That isn’t to say that there haven’t been a few inklings of growth, Mohamed Ben Attia’s Tunisian drama Hedi won Best First Feature at Berlin’s International Film Festival. Likewise, Tarik Saleh’s The Nile Hilton Incident was met with critical acclaim, winning Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize in 2017, and was even nominated for the prestigious César Awards for Best Foreign Film.
The industry is certainly reaching new heights, but when it comes to bringing these independent movies to a wider global audience, they’re often met with a roadblock. And this is where Maghreb Ciné comes in.
The film club is the first of its kind in London (and perhaps around the world) that’s dedicated to screening films strictly from North Africa and the diaspora.
For their first edition, they’ve put the spotlight on La Fille de Keltoum, an Algerian film that’s centered on a young woman who moves from Switzerland to her native Algeria, and her revenge plot against her mother who abandoned her after birth.
Since their launch last year, they’ve hosted ten different screenings—usually in intimate settings to an audience of around 30 people, with a presenter who typically kicks off the night with a short introduction into their film of choice.
From Ismaël Ferroukhi’s Le Grand Voyage (The Great Journey) and Abderrahmane Sissako’s Heremakono (Waiting for Happiness) to the 1995 classic La Haine, Maghreb Ciné’s selection has practically covered all different aspects of North African identity with its varied influences.
The film club just wrapped up their latest screening where they showcased Morocco-based director Oliver Laxe’s Mimosas, a religious tale set in the Atlas Mountains centered around a dying sheikh’s last wish.
Their next screening session has yet to be revealed, but be sure to keep an eye out for an announcement.