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Ouallywood

Another Hollywood-inspired cinema is launched! Ouallywood. Ouarzazate [war-za-zat] + Hollywood = Ouallywood. Financial Times baptized south Moroccan cinema ‘Ouallywood’  [http://www.jeuneafrique.com/192862/culture/maroc-bienvenue-ouallywood/], the same way American Cinematographer baptized Indian cinema Bollywood [Bombay + Hollywood] when an American engineer helped produced the first Indian sound picture in 1932 at a time when Tollywood, and not Bollywood, was the center of India’s film industry. And since Tollywood was the earliest ‘Hollywood-inspired’ name [referring to the Bengali film industry, based in Tollygunge, Calcutta], the engineer could only name Indian cinema after his own knowledge of Hollywood and Tollywood. But ‘Ouallywood’ has long been in existence and like Indian cinema, has had a thriving cinema industry in Ouarzazate that predates the great British film, Lawrence of Arabia in 1962.

Ouarzazate, known as the « door to the desert » is a magnifient oasis, adorned with flourishing valleys and kasbahs everywhere. The symbol of the town is in fact the Kasbah of Taourirt, built in the 18th century, and which was featured in Star Wars

ouarzazate 1   atlas studios ouazarazate maroc

Ouarzazate is known for its plentiful sunshine, 300 days per year, which made it an artist’s paradise as well as a cinematographic haven for directors. Not only has there been mega Hollywood productions in Marrakech, Casablanca, and Essaouira, as we read about often, but also in Ouarzazate. Even before Prince of Persia in 2008, and Ridley Scott’s decision to start shooting the Alien prequel next February and March, Ouarzazate was the décor for Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves in 1954, La Momille [Jacques Becker] [http://www.ouarzazate.com/fr2/cinema.html], Lawrence of Arabia by British director David Lean in 1962, and Italian Bertolucci in 1990 for Un Thé au Sahara [http://www.ouarzazate.com/fr2/cinema.html]. .

ali baba     arabia     prince of persia  the au sahara          tom cruise marrakech

This a list of other films done in Ouarzazate, but it may not be an exhaustive list, as this region’s cinema has been invisible to us for as long as it has been.

Année Film Réalisateur Rôle principal
84-85
THE JEWEL OF THE NILE
LEWIS TEAGUE
MICHEAL DOUGLAS
86-87
THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS
JOHN GLEN
THIMOTHY DALTON
88
L’ILE AU TRESOR
RAOUL RUIZ
ANTHONY QUINN
88-89
CHAHRAZADE
PIERRE GASPART HUIT
GERARD MUNIO
89
REVE DES PRINCES
MARIA SCHNRIDES
93
PORTE CLOSE
LAKTAA
MOROCCAN ACTORS
94
SLAVE OF DREAMS
ROBERT YOUNG
HALLY BERRY
94
SOLOMON AND SHEBA
ROBERT YOUNG
HALLY BERRY
94
LA MALEDICTION DU PHARAON
SOUHAIL BENBARKA
MOROCCAN ACTORS
95
MOSES
PAUL YOUNG
BEN KINGSLEY
96
KUNDUN
MARTIN SCORSESE
TIBETAN ACTORS
96/97
THINGS I FORGET TO REMEMBER
OLIVIER ENRIQUE
CUBAN ACTORS
97
LE JARDIN D’EDEN
ALESSANDRO ALLARTI
KIM ROSSI STEWART
97
LE LEGIONNAIRE
PETER MC DONALD
JEAN CLAUDE VAN DAMME
98
THE SEVENTH SCROLL
KEVIN O’CONNOR
JEFF FAHY
98
TIME TO LOVE
GIACOMO CAMPIOTTI
JULIET ABUBRY
98
CLEOPATRA
FRANK RODDAM
TIMOTHY DALTON
98/99
GLADIATOR
RIDLEY SCOTT
RUSSEL CROWE
2000
ASTERIX ET CLEOPATRE
ALAIN SHABA
GERARD DEPARDIEU
2001
SUEURS
2001
LES ROIS MAGES
2002
ANCIENT EGYPTIENS
2003- 2004
KINGDOWN OF HEAVEN
RIDLEY SCOTT
ORLANDO BLOOM

Source http://www.ouarzazate.com/fr2/cinema.html accessed 27 oct 2015

Ouarzazate aspires to be the African leader in cinema, trumping South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and Tunisia [http://www.yabiladi.com/articles/details/8644/ouarzazate-hollywood-marocain.html]. It can only wish to occupy this prestigious position if it has something to get it there. Ouarzazate has a film school, in a region of the Maghreb where film enthusiasts & scholars have had to travel out in the past- mostly to France, but also to Belgium, German etc. – to study film. There are also several studios: Atlas Studios – created in 1983; Aster Studios – created  in 1990; Kanzaman Studios initiated by Mohamed Asli in 2004 and is a partnership between the Lazio region in Italy and the Moroccan production Dagham Film; CLA Studios – a partnership between Dino de Laurentis, Cinecitta and Sanam Hilding.

Ouallywood, like Bollywood, and the rest of the –wood cinema, isn’t a physical place like Hollywood, but will perhaps become the majority cinema for that country [Morocco] like Bollywood has come to represent the entire cinematic industry of India for a lot of people. It is indeed good that the world will now see some Moroccan cinema with its abundance of themes and films rather than for only its exotic décor in Rome, Egypt, Tibet or for Sex and the City 2 and Game of Thrones’ Pentos, as the Free City and location of Dany and Khal Drogo’s wedding. Women directors have started to play a more prominent and urgent role in a Moroccan film industry which used to be dominated by men, so even if Ouallywood has become legitimate only in the context of imitating Hollywood, so be it. Let the show begin!


2 Comments

  1. Rhett says:

    Très intéressant! I have seen some of the American movies on your list (Lawrence of Arabia being one of my all-time favorites) but I do not think I have ever seen a Moroccan film, that is, a film made by Moroccans for a primarily Moroccan audience (if you could provide any recommendations I would appreciate it). If exploitative Hollywood tripe like “Sex & The City” can help to put Ouallywood on the map, then that is good news. Mais je répète, I would still like to see more authentic Moroccan films being released/promoted in the US. And I am especially glad to hear that Moroccan women are now being embraced as auteurs! That can only be a sign of progress in a Muslim-majority country, and a welcome one it is!

    I don’t read the FT on a regular basis and I likely would not have heard about Ouallywood had I not seen this post.

    This is why I come here!

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