The Moroccan film Androman de Sange et de Charbon (Androman of Blood and Carbon), which tackles injustice against women and the issue of gender change, was due to premier in Moroccan movie theatres today as part of International Women's Day. Owing to its focus on the oppression of women, director Alaoui thought it perfect for International Women’s Day. However, the Moroccan officials expected to attend the premier had prior engagements today.
The film tells the story of a family that lives in a remote village in the Atlas Mountains. The father, Ouchen, works in coal manufacturing, a profession that has been passed down from generation to another. He has a daughter, but had hoped he would have a son to inherit the family business and keep the land, which otherwise has to go to the nearest male relative.
Director, Az Larabe Alaoui, explains,.“After the death of his wife, the father decides to turn his daughter into a boy who he calls Androman.” The residents of the village, Alaoui, are fooled into believing that the father has a boy until the child falls into the river and her true gender is revealed to a shepherd who lives there. A love story ensues between Androman and the shepherd in what villagers think is a homosexual relationship.
To avenge his honor after his neighbours think that his alleged son is gay, the father kills the shepherd. According to actress Jalila Tlemsi, who played the role of Androman, the film focuses on the loss of identity and the way it is related to social ailments. “The suppression Androman goes through is a reflection of the society to which the father belongs and which makes him insist on having a son even when this is not possible,” she recently told Al Arabiya .
Tlemsi, who won Best Actress at the National Film Festival in Tangiers, said Androman of Blood and Carbon was a real challenge that will play a major role in shaping her career and in her popularity. “Playing the role of a boy was very difficult. I had to be careful with the voice, the movements, and the looks.” The character of Androman, she added, is a very complicated one that required a lot of analysis before starting the shooting. “Every time I read the script, I discovered another dimension in the characters and I found many ways of approaching it.” Makeup was also another challenge, she added. She and the director spent a lot of time with the makeup artist in order to arrive at the Androman they envisioned. “I chose not to wear a wig and to shave my hair not because I wanted sensational media coverage, but because this made me relate more to the character and start living her dilemma.”
In addition to the Best Actress award, Androman of Blood and Carbon got another three awards at the National Film Festival: Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Score, and the Critics’ Award. The date of the premier remains to be determined.