By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 11/14/2005 | 9:43 am
Marrakech---Moroccan director Moumen Smihi's 'El Ayel' (The Kid) had its premier on Sunday at the Marrakech International Film Festival, currently being held in the southern Moroccan city from Nov. 11-19.
'El Ayel', as its director described it, is a film that explores the concept of religion in modern society.
“My film explores themes of infantile perversion, colonial trauma, cinema, sacrilege and modernity,” said Smihi during a briefing he held with the press after the screening of his film.
The film tells the story of a moody ten year-old boy, Mohammed Larbi, who faced many troubles at his early age. He has endured many illnesses, a terrible circumcision, harsh religious catechism, and European Jansenism.
Larbi likes freedom and prefers street life to the 'cloistered' family environment or the classroom. He was mischievous with other children in his neighbourhood. He has even committed the ultimate act of subversion, sacrilege. The film simply describes the life and situation of Muslim children in Morocco.
Most events happened in Tangier, in northern Morocco, during the colonisation era of the 1950's.
The film also portrays the character of a religious father who invites his children to use reason and logic while trying to analyse some religious concepts. He never abuses them and through modern education. He invites them to fundamentally explore ethical concepts and pursuits: the imaginary sacrilege; irreverence and insubordination; poetry; and music.
“This is the gist of the film,” said the film's director.
However, the film, which stars Abdesslam Begdouri, Said Amel and Bahija el Hachami, is full of narration which distracts the viewers from following the flow of events in the film.
Smihi's 'El Ayel' is the only Moroccan film in competition among 15 others contesting the festival's Golden star prize, which will be handed over to the best movie next Saturday.
Moumen Smihi has a record of 6 short films, and 8 feature length films.