How does it feel to be among the honored personalities at the festival this year?
I am very honored and happy to receive this tribute from this big and internationally renowned festival. I would like to thank the organization and more specifically HRH Prince Moulay Rachid for choosing me. It’s a distinction that I’ve decided to consider as a new beginning, and an encouragement to give more.
You have been noticeably absent from the big lately. Why is that?
Firstly, you must know that there is not a big enough selection of parts in Moroccan cinema. When I’m offered a job that I do not like, I don’t take it. With almost 30 years of experience, I’m more selective of those that will add something to my career. Secondly, age plays an important part in the matter since most of the existing starring roles are those of young or male characters. All of this makes me take my time before taking another job.
Is this due to a lack in the scriptwriting department?
Certainly. I often get jealous of Egyptian actresses who are spoiled with choices of age-appropriate roles that are quite rich and deep. The screenwriting in my opinion still has many deficiencies, which affects the Moroccan cinema production.
How would you assess the Moroccan filmmaking industry today?
Moroccan cinema has certainly evolved over the years, on all levels. There are several cinematographic genres now unlike the 70s when the auteur cinema was prevalent. This has enriched the filmmaking scene and has produced several job offers for young people. Also more funds are now being provided as opposed to back when I started. Nevertheless, there are still a few problems as I just mentioned, especially in the scenario and dialogue department. I think these are the aspects that still need to be improved.
What makes a movie interesting for you?
An interesting film is a moving one. A film that touches me regardless of the theme and the story. I think we have been able to tackle all subjects, but it is about the way in which a topic is approached that makes the story interesting. It is also necessary that the film respects my identity as a Moroccan, so I can be authentic when playing and thus to be credible.
You attended the conversation of Tunisian actress Hend Sabry and the Iranian Golshifteh Farahani. How did you find it?
Excellent! I enjoyed it immensely. I was able to meet Hend Sabry in person prior to the conversation and to discover the admirable person behind the formidable actress that she is. I always felt that we had the same personality as well as the same path.
In this conversation, the question of quotas was raised, do you find a difference between working with a woman director and a man director?
I agree with both actresses. The gender has nothing to do with the quality of the work because we can sometimes work with a man director of higher sensitivity than that of a woman director. In my opinion, basing the choices on the director’s gender can distort things, it is still discrimination even if it is a positive one.
Your most successful films are feminist-leaning ones. Is it intentional?
In reality, they are not primarily feminist films. Although they deal with issues affecting women, they are first and foremost issues that affect our society. Now whether it is intentional or not, I would like to quote Golshifteh Farahani to say “I don’t know if we are the ones who choose our roles or are they the ones that choose us”. I don’t think that there are coincidences in life.
With a journey as rich as yours, what is your greatest achievement?
My son! (Laughs) My greatest achievement must be this trust that I was able to build with my audience who loves me and values my work.
You mentioned that you are currently shooting, can you tell us more?
It’s an adaptation of Tchekhov’s short story called “Un jour d’été” with director Faouzi Bensaïdi. I can’t tell you more but I can promise you that it will be a nice surprise!