By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 11/25/2005 | 5:43 pm
Marrakech---Moroccan actor Hamidou Benmassoud, alias Amidou, who was paid tribute at the Marrakech International Film Festival, held on Nov. 11-19, has called on the Moroccan officials to stamp out artistic piracy, which for him only contributes to the artists' brain drain. In an interview with Morocco Times, the actor talks about his tribute, career, and future projects.
MT: How did you see this tribute?
Amidou: This tribute comes to crown 37 years of career in the cinema. I was moved at receiving the trophy from my daughter Souad. It was really a great surprise. Through this honour, I returned to Morocco through a large door. I consider this as a real back up to what I did and what I have to do next.
MT: ... And what do you have to do next?
Amidou: There still too much to do. I should take part in more films, whether at the national or international level. I would always try to impose the image of the Moroccan artist abroad. To represent my country with dignity was always my goal. I prefer to project the image of my country abroad rather than here.
Amidou: I am not against working in Morocco. On the contrary, I have already said that I wish to devote the rest of my career to the Moroccan cinema and theatre. However, when you do a great work here and then you find it the next day pirated and sold for less than one dollar in Derb Ghallaf market in Casablanca, then you start questioning why you would stay in Morocco. When a filmmaker goes to the market and finds his film sold for nothing, how would you expect him to pay his debts, his actors...? That kills any artistic work, and can lead any director to bankruptcy. I hope that the Moroccan officials will do something to stop this phenomenon, because it will negatively contribute to the artists' brain drain.
MT: Actually many people have blamed you for not doing enough for your native country?
Amidou: Those who blame me are definitely wrong. This only proves that they are close-minded. I think they should open their windows, because today it is not enough to produce a film at the national level. I had a difficult and black life, and I have chosen to immigrate to learn a job. I have worked hard to make the name of Amidou known today. Communication with the other world is important. That's why I went to Europe to make my name. Today, when they talk of Amidou, they don't say the French, but rather the Moroccan, and I am proud of that.
MT: We can't talk about Amidou's career without thinking of Claude Lelouche. How do you see your relations with this talented film director?
Amidou: I explored the world of cinema thanks to French Director Claude Lelouch, who gave me major roles in many of his films.
I am his star actor. I consider him as a brother. We have worked together in almost 14 films. These include in 'La Vie, l'amour, la mort', 'Le Propre de L'Homme', 'And Now... Ladies and Gentlemen', 'Le Voyou', 'Une fille et des fusils'... etc.
Moreover, everyone will remember his film 'La Vie, l'amour, la mort' which opened the doors for me to enter world cinema.
I worked later overseas along with outstanding and famous Hollywood actors including Brad Pitt, Silvester Stalone, and Michael Caine. I was in the cast of Otto Preminger's 'Rosebud' (1975), of William Friedkin's 'Sorcerer' (1977) and 'Rules of engagement' (2000), in John Frankenheimer's 'Ronin' (1997) and in Tony Scott's 'Spy Game' (2001).
MT: What is the movie that marked you the most?
Amidou: Actually, two movies left a lasting impression on me. In 'La Vie, l'amour, la mort', seven times I put my head on a real guillotine. This leaves a mark. But the memory of the filming of the “Convoi de la peur” is acute. I was young and carefree, I had refused to have a substitute and I paid for it physically! These have become part of cinema history since one is in the French Cineclub and the other in the American Cineclub. It is crazy what the cinema can do of us!
MT: What is the role that you would like to play one day?
Amidou: There are striking people in history. I mentioned Ché Guevara, our King Hassan II...
MT: What are your future projects?
Amidou: I am happy because in two years I have made Moroccan films with Mohamed Ismaël, Hakim Nouri...And then the TV film "Poursuite" directed by Leila Triki , which Moroccans saw during Ramadan. I have some future projects with Moroccan directors. I prefer not to talk about them for the moment.