- Mohammed Asli’s socially conscious drama In Casablanca, Angels Don’t Fly, about a trio of Berber migrants in Morocco’s largest city, topped Tunisia’s Carthage Film Festival, focused on African and Arab cinema.
Mohammed Asli’s socially conscious drama In Casablanca, Angels Don’t Fly was the winner of the Gold Tanit for Best Film at the 2004 edition of Tunisia’s Carthage Film Festival, a biennial African and Arab cinema celebration that ran Oct. 1–9. The award itself is named after the ancient Punic/Phoenician goddess of war and fertility.
In Casablanca, Angels Don’t Fly depicts the dreams and challenges of three migrant Berber workers as they eke out a living in Morocco’s bustling metropolis – quite unlike the “exotic” locale where Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart made movie history back in 1942.
Arab cinema showcase
The Carthage Film Festival is one of the most important showcases for Arab films (however one chooses to culturally define the “genre”), which are generally plagued by government censorship and poor distribution even in their own countries.
Among the other Arabic-language efforts shown at Carthage were:
- Danielle Arbid’s Lebanese drama In the Battlefields, about a young girl’s friendship with her aunt’s domineering maid in war-torn Beirut.
- Oussama Faouzi’s Egyptian-made I Love Cinema, the story of a young boy’s passion for movies in an environment of strict religious intolerance. Reportedly one of the Carthage Film Festival’s biggest hits, I Love Cinema is Egypt’s entry for the 2005 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.
- Amer Alwan’s Franco-Iraqi drama Zaman: The Man from the Reeds / Zaman, l’homme des roseaux,* in which Iraqi villager Zaman (Sami Kaftan) takes to the road in search of the expensive medicine needed to save his ailing wife.
Alwan, who not only directed but also co-wrote (with Joëlle Alauzet) Zaman: The Man from the Reeds, explained that he “wanted to make a film that was about humanity; that had a universal appeal and feel. The first film I ever saw when I was eight in Iraq was Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief [a.k.a. Bicycle Thieves]. To this day I still remember that film.”
Also remembered at this year’s Carthage Film Festival were two veteran Egyptian attendees: director Youssef Chahine (Cairo Station, Alexandria… Why?) and actor Omar Sharif (Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago).
* According to the IMDb, Zaman: The Man from the Reeds is a 2003 production made for French television, though it has been screened at several movie festivals.
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“Carthage Film Festival Award” endnotes
Amer Alwan quote: The Daily Star.
In Casablanca, Angels Don’t Fly image: Carthage Film Festival.
“Carthage Film Festival Award Goes to Socially Conscious Moroccan Drama” last updated in December 2020.