An invitation to a national symposium on “Hassani Film” to assess the artistic balance in the desert

Producer and director Mohamed Fadel Al-Sheikh Maa El-Aynain and journalist and producer Rashid Al-Balghiti said that “as long as the film works production support committee reveals a list of film projects that will benefit from advances in the category of documentaries on the culture, history and countryside of the Hassani desert, protests abound and rumors circulate about the reality of approved standards in the selection of film projects.

Maa El-Aynain and Belgiti added, in an article entitled “For a national debate on the Saharawi Hassani film”, that “the beginnings were pleasant with the integrity shown by the first members of the committees that support the production of cinematographic works in Morocco. in studying documentary projects about the Sahara.” However, “water ran under the bridge of the committees, and documentaries began to appear in the ring, having only the characteristics of the documentation minus the name.”

After asking a series of questions about support for Hassaniya desert films, the article stated that “these questions and others will not be answered except through a national debate organized in Dakhla or El-Ayoun, under the supervision of the interested public institutions, and in the presence of various professional and intellectual organizations that know the field; A symposium that takes into account the appreciation of the cultural and artistic balance in an open and plural Morocco and promotes the cinematographic issue in the Sahara and its workers.”

This is the text of the article:

Every time the Film Works Production Support Committee revealed the list of film projects that will benefit from advances in the category of documentaries on culture, history and the Hassani desert countryside, protests and rumors circulate about the reality of the criteria adopted for the selection of film projects:

Do you choose movies for themselves? Because of the quality of their texts? And the coherence of the vision when its directors? Or for other reasons far removed from what was announced in the commitment books?

Criticism has increased in recent years. To be precise, anger has increased in the last two years in a way that begs the question.

The support committees for the production of cinematographic works in Morocco constituted a unique model, in terms of the diversity of the experiences of their members, the exceptional trajectory of their presidents and heads, and the independence of their decisions. A number of professionals and concerned people felt as if Ma’s will wanted to send a message that said: “In this country there are women and men with integrity and impartiality that make them capable of rewarding hard work, despite all the inconveniences.”

It is known that the composition of the committee conforms to the requirements of the joint decision between the minister in charge of the communications sector and the minister delegated to the minister of economy and finance in charge of the budget, specifying the conditions, criteria and methods of disbursement of the support for the production of cinematographic works, which stipulates that the committee be made up of 11 members; Of these, four members belong to the world of culture and art and have close ties to the cinematographic field, three members with the necessary skills to evaluate the budget of the selected film, chosen among professionals, and four members representing each one of them. the Ministry in charge of Communication, the Ministry in charge of Finance, the Ministry in charge of Culture and the Moroccan Film Center.

It is customary to appoint a Saharawi among the members of the committee, and the objective is that the member has the knowledge and ability to judge film projects in their aspect related to the Saharawi-Hassani culture, history and field. . The role of the Saharawi member was mainly an anthropologist; Because within the committee, generally, the directors and the financial experts have the qualifications to be able to evaluate technically and financially, regardless of the subject of the film.

The beginnings were pleasant with the integrity shown by the first members in the study of documentary projects on the desert. The discussion with the owners of the projects, in front of the committees, lasted for an hour, sometimes in the presence of the screenwriter (e), director (e) and producer (e). The arguments were real, rich and productive, with which it is easy to distinguish between the wheat and the chaff, and avoid what is precious in the midst of what comes out of the campaign of projects that come or go to the desert. Not all those who came from the desert are “sons of your uncle, flower”! As the saying goes.

However, the water ran under the committees’ bridge. And “documentary” works began to appear in the arena, with no more documentation characteristics than the name -without denying the creative slips that formed the exception that sanctifies the rule- and it seemed clear that these poor works were only the result of nature. of the entry of new and strange undeclared criteria, in the selection.

Some committees left only the Saharawi member responsible for evaluating desert-related film projects. Some of them were afraid of this heavy responsibility, so they dedicated themselves to reading the texts in depth and giving advice in areas in which they had no experience, so that they would conscientiously judge the film projects. The dispositions of the conscience are acceptable, even if they are vitiated by error.

However, developments in recent years have shown that the film evaluation process must be controlled and strengthened by adding a second Saharawi member to the committee, not only to enrich the opinions on the projects presented; Rather, to avoid suspicion after the rumors that circulated among the professionals after the resignation of two members of two committees, or prompting them to resign, in the last three years.

We have accompanied the experience of supporting documentary film about the countryside, culture and history of the Hassani desert, since its inception in 2015. We also had the honor of contributing to the making of two films, individually, within the framework of this support; Whether contributing to writing, producing or directing. Perhaps the proximity to this experience and our understanding of its value is what prompts us today to ask ourselves the following questions:

What do we want with the support for the documentary film on the Saharawi-Hassani culture, history and countryside?

Does the support have geographic or Sunni limits? Or both?

Do Noun Valley, Draa, Mauritania, northern Mali, Chad and Niger… fall within the domain of the Hassani desert? Can creators work on the junction between Dakhla and Nouadhibou, for example?

What criteria do we adopt to select the “Delegates of the Sahara” within the support committees in Rabat?

Does this support, according to your philosophy today, serve the desert as a space and subject of encounter and opening, or does it turn it into a ghetto of my identities, and perhaps a new source of income, to which the opportunistic elites do not have access? connection with the cinema advocated?

What is the way to support transparency in the field?

These and other questions will not be answered except through a national debate, organized in Dakhla or El Ayoun, under the supervision of the interested public institutions and in the presence of various professional and intellectual organizations that know the field; A seminar focused on assessing the cultural and artistic balance in an open and plural Morocco, promoting the cinematographic issue in the Sahara and its workers, and consulting everyone to develop a precise and applicable plan aimed at rehabilitating and developing the sector, developing mechanisms for support and sponsorship of film productions, initiatives and events.

God knows that our intention behind this invitation is “clearer than the fear of a boy who rejected it.” And the God of intention behind.