Friday 3 April, 8.15, French Institute
UK premiere of restored Moroccan essay film banned forty years ago
Film: About Some Meaningless Events (De quelques événements sans signification), Mostafa Derkaoui, Morocco, 1974, DCP, Arabic with English subtitles, 76 minutes, UK premiere
The screening will be preceded by a presentation by curator and independent researcher Léa Morin, whose work explores archives, history and film heritage from North Africa, seeking to trace possible historiographies based on the absent, disappeared or forgotten.
With the support of CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership and Institut Français London.
In 1974, in Morocco, Mostafa Derkaoui filmed About Some Meaningless Events (De quelques événements sans signification), an essayistic inquiry into the social role of an independent national cinema that is being born and the political aspirations of a new generation. The film was banned under the country’s censorship laws and remained practically invisible until this restoration made it available. Today the film retains an energy, a curiosity, and a sense of urgency that will surprise and challenge contemporary audiences.As curator Rasha Salti has written: ‘Around the port’s streets and popular bars of Casablanca, a group of filmmakers conduct discussions with people about their expectations of, and aspirations for, the emerging Moroccan national cinema. When a disgruntled worker kills his superior accidentally, their inquest shifts focus, and they begin to probe the context and motives of the killing. At the heart of About Some Meaningless Events (De quelques événements sans signification) is an interrogation on the role of cinema (and art) in society, documentary and the Real, and what constitutes an urgency for a national cinema that is being born. This unique filmic experience was conceived as an independent and collective effort of militant filmmakers, actors, musicians, poets and journalists at a time of heightened repression on freedom of expression in Morocco and was funded by the sale of paintings by several contemporary painters. The film was first screened in Paris in 1975 but was immediately taxed with censorship and forbidden from exhibition and export. It was forgotten until a negative print was found in the archives of the Filmoteca de Catalunya in 2016 and restored there. Forty-five years after its completion, the film will finally be released.’ (Rasha Salti, Courtisane Festival, 2019)