Jahilya

Hicham Lasri
2018

18.02. 22:00 Eng. subtitles CineStar 8
19.02. 22:30 Eng. subtitles Cubix 9
21.02. 17:30 Eng. subtitles Kino Arsenal 1
24.02. 13:45 Eng. subtitles CineStar 8

94 min. Arabic.

When cockroaches dream, they dream of dying a natural death – instead of being squashed by human hand. This prologue forms a leitmotif that runs through the entire third part of Hicham Lasri’s “Trilogy of the Dog”. The film’s frequently hyper-realistic sequences describe the current state of the violent emotional dynamics governing contemporary Morocco: those between men and women, parents and children, the powerful and the disenfranchised. Moments of human humiliation link together the fates of six characters, located in a luxury country estate, an urban environment, and a quarry, respectively: the rape of a young woman; a suicidal man caught up in medieval fantasies; an unmarried daughter’s pregnancy, her blind father only concerned about the racial purity of his family; a bigoted judge; a little boy desperately demanding mutton for a sacrificial feast banned by the king; and the shoe that hit George W. Bush on the head in Iraq.
Lasri’s images carry the dynamics and power of a nightmare at once concrete and symbolic, straightforward and enigmatic, topical and timeless. (Dorothee Wenner)

Hicham Lasri was born in Casablanca, Morocco in 1977. He studied law at the Université Hassan II in Casablanca before making a name for himself as a playwright, novelist and screenwriter. In 2011, he made his debut feature, The End, about the last days of Morocco’s King Hassan II.

Paralysed souls

JAHILYA is an expression of disgust, of nausea. It’s a cry of ‘Enough!’ In recent years, I’ve been getting more and more fed up with my compatriots, and I’ve found myself trapped in the maelstrom of the ambient mediocrity of the times. I did what I could to fight off the heartsickness and keep my soul from rotting. I decided to make a film about it, by entwining six stories of contemporary lives, and expressing all their melancholy, poetry, and violence.
How can a man who no longer feels anything continue to exist when his soul has already putrefied? How can he survive the fading away of his own memories? How can he continue to function day-to-day when the hands of his biological clock have disappeared and the metronome is but a countdown to the end?
This film is a mourning of the feelings of people whose heart and soul are paralysed. It’s the story of people with few skills, ‘worthless’ people with few capacities, and who are desperately trying to make something of themselves, to make a place for themselves in the world as a final attempt to survive, before abandoning hope and resigning themselves to their fate.
In a very cold, clinical way, the film screams how important it is to reconnect with your emotions, to accept the mourning, the tears, the suffering that brings grace, to feel once again, to exist, love, then love oneself.
I tried to synthesise this visceral rejection, generating characters, events, and accounts that would coalesce into a film, the final work of the “Trilogy of the Dog”, begun with THEY ARE THE DOGS (C’EST EUX LES CHIENS) in 2013 and as the second part, STARVE YOUR DOG (AFFAME TON CHIEN) in 2015.
JAHILYA is about the gestures, moments, and traditions that have made their way down to us from our culture’s earliest traces. The reference to the Middle Ages is a way of invoking the past and conveying the anxiety that riddles contemporary Morocco, where we seem to be sinking into a form of barbaric savagery, blind fanaticism, and inertia that leads us inexorably into darkness. With this film, I wanted to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness. (Hicham Lasri)

Production Lamia Chraïbi, Michel Merkt. Production companies LaProd (Casablanca, Morocco), Moon a Deal Films (Paris, France). Written and directed by Hicham Lasri. Director of photography Said Slimani. Editing Zakaria Tibari. Music Wissam Hojeij. Sound design Patrice Mendez. Sound Anas Hamouch. Production design Hicham Lasri. With Mostapha Houari (Lotfi), Salma Eddlimi (Rita), Hassan Ben Badida (Ali), Rami Fijjaj (Yaya), Zoubir Abou Al Fadl (Ali’s Son), Moulay Hassan Alaoui (Lotfi’s Father), Malek Akhmiss (Mr. Jolnir), Zoubida Akif (Maid), Nissrine Erradi (Fati), Jalal Bouftaim (Chauffeur), Youssef Lemrabet (Haj Kabir).

Films

2005: Jardin des Rides (13 min.). 2010: Android (8 min.). 2011: The End (105 min.). 2013: C’est eux les chiens / They Are the Dogs (85 min.). 2014: Al bahr min ouaraikoum / The Sea is Behind (88 min., panorama 2015). 2015: Starve Your Dog (94 min., panorama 2016). 2017: Headbang Lullaby (90 min., panorama 2017). 2018: Jahilya.

Photo: © La Prod, Jahylia