Monday, November 24, 2014

Flash Floods ~ 31 People Washed Away

Flash flooding in southern Morocco has reportedly killed at least 31 people, with many others still missing. Heavy storms have swept across several regions including Marrakesh, where torrential rain destroyed many mud homes on Sunday.

Roads and highways were blocked off, making it hard for emergency crews to reach people. A girl of nine was among those who had been swept away by the raging waters of the Tamsourt River, media reports said.

Around 100 mud-brick homes were partly or totally destroyed and 100 roads, including six national highways, were cut off in the floods, officials said.

It was forecast that more than 100 millimetres of rain would fall, but nothing has been done. They just waited for the catastrophe to unfold.~ Brahim Boulid, Journalist

The "exceptional" storms also swept across the regions of Guelmim, Agadir and Ouarzazate, and a search was under way for the missing, the authorities said.

Journalist Brahim Boulid, reporting from Guelmim,said that the death toll stood at 31, including eight members of the same family who died after floods swept away their vehicle.

The Arabic-language dailies Al Massae and Al Ahdath gave death tolls of 16 and 22 respectively.

About 130 all-terrain rescue vehicles and 335 Zodiac inflatables and other boats were being used, the interior ministry said, in a statement carried by Morocco's MAP news agency.

The agency said at least 14 people remained missing in Guelmim, 200km south of Agadir. The national weather service warned that an alert over more heavy rainfall would remain in place until midday on Monday. It said about 100 mud-brick homes were partly or totally destroyed in the south, and 100 roads cut off, including six national highways.

Boulid told Al Jazeera that authorities were warned that the amount of rainfall would trigger floods but chose to ignore them.

"It was forecast that more than 100 millimetres of rain would fall, but nothing has been done. They just waited for the catastrophe to unfold," Boulid said.

Flash floods are common in Morocco, where four children drowned in the south in September, when they were swept away.

Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Four Moroccan Films Make it to Mediterranean Film Fest

Four Moroccan films, Adios CarmenTraitorsThe Flour Bag and Fevers were selected for the Brussels Mediterranean Film Festival from the 5th to 12th December
The films tap into the prevailing zeitgeist surrounding children and family relationships. At times confronting, at times harrowing, they are all films to look out for. 

Adios Carmen is directed by Mohamed Amin Benamraoui. Set in 1975 it is the story of 10-year-old Amar who lives in a village in the Rif (northern Morocco) with his violent uncle, waiting for the unlikely return of his mother, who has left for Belgium. He finds a friend in Carmen, his neighbor, who is a Spanish exile and who works as an usher at the village cinema. Carmen helps him discover a world previously unknown to him.

Amar (Benjalil Amanallah) and Carmen (Paulina Gálvez)

Mohamed Amin Benamraoui (born in Morocco) came to Brussels in the mid-1980s and studied cinema under Thierry Zeno. Adios Carmen is his first feature. Benamraoui has produced a number of short films and has also worked as a radio presenter and a programme planner for several Berber festivals. Adios Carmen was produced by Taziri Productions, the soundtrack composed by Khalid Izri. The film won the first prize at the Arab Film Festival in Malmo (October 2014).

Fevers is the third feature film by Hicham Ayouch after Tizaoul (2006) and Cracks (2009). The film is a harrowing vision of the complexity of family relationships. Benjamin, aged 13, is battling against life, against the adults, against himself. Scarred and tormented, he's grown up without a father and with a completely troubled mother. Moving from shelter to shelter since he's five years old, Benjamin can't stand authority nor confinement which causes him to constantly escape.

Eventually, his mother goes to prison revealing to the social services and to Benjamin the identity of his father. To Benjamin the objective is simple: to quit the shelter, so, when given the choice, he decides to go to live with his father.

Karim Zeroubi, his father, is a broken up man on his forties who still lives at his parents at the Parisian suburban ghetto, which he has never left. A warehouseman at a supermarket, he rather waits for death than contents himself with his little life. Benjamin's presence will completely turn upside down the life of his father and his family. His father tries clumsily to bond with him but ends up utterly overwhelmed by this wild, cruel child. Randomly wandering through the suburbs, Benjamin comes across Claude, a cranky poet who lives in a caravan lost in the middle of nowhere. Their relationship is built of surrealistic and poetic exchanges.

Hicham Ayouch is a Moroccan director born in 1976. He is a former journalist, he worked in several French channels before he became a writer and a director. He began with two documentaries The King’s Queens about the status of the women in Morocco and Angel’s Dust about autistic teenagers. He also directed two features, Heart Edges a story of a dead fisherman village and recently Cracks, a love triangle between three misfits in Tangiers.

The third Moroccan film showing of the 14th edition of the Brussels Mediterranean Film Festival is Traitors, the first feature film by American actor residing in Tangier, Sean Gullette. The film, released in 2013, is an 86 minute brush portrait of alienated youth who seek to improve their socio-economic situation.

Malika is the leader of the all-female punk rock band Traitors, with a strong vision of the world, her hometown of Tangier, and her place in it. When she needs money to save her family from eviction, and to realize her dreams for the band, Malika agrees to a fast cash proposition: a smuggling run over the mountains for a dangerous drug dealer. But her companion on the road is Amal, a burnt-out young drug mule, who Malika decides to free from her enslavement to the dangerous drug dealers. The challenge will put Malika's rebel ethos to the test, and to survive she will have to call on all her instincts and nerve.

The Flour Bag by filmmaker Khadija Leclere is the fourth film selected. Again it is a tale of a young person in trouble. Only eight years old, Sarah, who grew up in a Catholic convent school, is abducted by her father to Morocco. A completely different life begins: Sarah now has to find her way in a Muslim extended family and get used to new customs. Nine years later, the little girl has become a self-confident young woman who has only one wish: She wants to Belgium to go back and be a writer. But things do not go as she intended.

Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, November 21, 2014

Piano Concert on Saturday November 22

French Pianist Eric Artz plays tomorrow night at 8 PM at the French Institute at Dar Batha. His repertoire will include Chopin, Rachmaninov, Liszt and Debussy

Eric Artz has played as a soloist since he was a teenager, and was awarded First Prize at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris in 2012. He is also a prizewinner of more than 20 other international competitions.

Born in 1983 in France, he began studying spiano at the age of 7. He gained entrance to the Paris Conservatoire National Superieur at 14. After receiving his Master's degree, he won First Prize awarded unanimously as well as the CNSMDP Diploma of Artist (Doctorate).

He is the prizewinner of 20 National and International competitions, including the Geneva
competition, Maria Canals (Spain), and the Epinal competition (France). He is also laureate of the Cziffra Foundation and the Natexis Banque Populaire Foundation.

Artz has played as a solist with orchestras since his early years, with French orchestras
(Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Orchestre de la Garde Républicaine for Radio
France) and with the Prague Chamber Orchestra.

He has performed abroad in Austria ( Salzburg), Italy ( Rome ), Sardinia (Cagliari), and in Switzerland, Germany, England (London), Israel ( Tel Aviv Opera house, Jerusalem), Ireland (Dublin) and also in Japan.

Print Friendly and PDF

International Photographic Exhibition in Fez

The work of 14 international artists will be on show in Fez during the eighth edition of the Rencontres Internationales de la Photo de Fès. On the theme of "Invisible Cities", the exhibition opens on Saturday November 22 and runs until December 15
One of Swiss artist Regula Bochsler's still images from Rendering Eye

As part of Saison France-Maroc 2014, organised by the French Institute in Fez, the exhibition will be displayed across several venues. The work has been curated by Selva Barni and Francesca Girelli from Italy. "The theme is inspired by Italo Calvino's classic book from 1972, Invisible Cities", says Selva Barni. "It is about more than physical portraits of places - it's about the underlying layers; the city as memories."

Calvino's Invisible Cities consists of a sequence of imaginary dialogues between the Venetian traveler Marco Polo and the Tartar emperor Kublai Khan. In the course of these discussions, the young Polo describes a series of cities, and discusses Cities and Memory, Cities and Desire, Cities and Signs, Thin Cities, Trading Cities, Cities and Eyes, Cities and Names, Cities and the Dead, Cities and the Sky, Continuous Cities, and Hidden Cities.

Exhibition curators Selva Barni and Francesca Girelli from Italy
The majority of the world's population now live in cities, and the way residents experience the urban landscape varies tremendously. The diverse work of the14 artists who have contributed to the exhibition reflect this. "They are artists who use the photograph as media, rather than being principally photographers," explains Selva.

Swiss artist Regula Bochsler
One of the artists is Swiss based Regula Bochsler who has used the Apple 3D mapping program to create a series of impressionistic portraits of cities, titled Rendering Eye. "Apple started a mapping service in 2012," she says. Created by flying over major cities, the images consist of exposures from multiple points of view, which are then combined using software.

"They offer a bird's eye point of view, but as they are taken over a period of time, anything which is moving is not visible," she says. "So it's like seeing those cities after the blast...we have never seen a representation of the world we live in in this form."

Another artist, Heba Amin from Egypt, uses video and soundscapes for Speak2Tweet. While the viewer is visually transported through empty buildings, the soundtrack gives Twitter texts in Arabic (with subtitles), from the time that Mobarak shut down the internet for a week, to try and silence dissent, in a display of despotic power. Resourceful Egyptians set up a system where phone messages were converted into Tweets, and they are a vivid record of attempts at resistance.

One of Heba Amin's images from Speak2Tweet
Contributing photographic artists also include Peter Steinhauer/US; Raed Yassin/Libya; Andre Principe/Portugal; Felicity Hammond/England and Li Mu/China.

Li Mu, Sol Lewitt’s Untitled (Wall Structure), 2011

Rencontres Internationales de la Photo de Fès includes other activities, such as photography workshops led by local photographer Omar Chennafi.  "In search of hidden treasure Fez" aims to help young people discover the art of photography.

Rencontres Internationales de la Photo de Fès runs from November 22 to December 15, 2014. 
It takes place at the French Institute Gallery; Gallery Kacimi; Cultural Complex Sidi Mohammed Ben Youssef; Dar Tazi at Batha - the base of the Association of Fez Saiss. 

Opening: Saturday, November 22, 6 PM, Galerie Kacimi, 26 Avenue Moulay Youssef, Ville Nouvelle

Guided tours of exhibitions: Sunday, November 23, 3 PM

Meeting and discussion with the artists and the two curators: Sunday, November 23, 5.30 PM at the French Institute, Dar Batha. 

More info: CLICK HERE

Print Friendly and PDF