MARRAKECH – One of Morocco’s most famous female producers has her hands full with a lot of new projects. Lamia Chraibi (“Mimosas”, “Jahilya”) of Casablanca-based production shingle Laprod has unveiled a completely new production slate to Variety which she is working on outside of her current focus, the “Thank You Satan” production, directed by Moroccan Hicham Lasri (“Cruelty Free”).
Previously titled “Happy Lovers,” the dark comedy is about a penniless novelist who plans to kill a famous author who has been issued with a fatwa. He wants to use the money to buy his wife and new children a place in the sun.
“It will be a first of its kind and I can’t wait for this film to be made,” she says Variety.
Other projects in the works include drama/horror “Le Refuge” by Talal Selhami (“Achora”). The director described the film as Polanski-esque in style. The story takes place in an apartment with very few characters.
“It’s a movie we’re currently developing that has a wonderful storyline and approach to the psychological genre,” she added.
Chraibi is also developing a number of series, including ‘Miara’, Selhami’s first series. His passion project revolves around a female Berber warrior in the 8th century trained by an old man.
Lasri also tries his hand at series with ‘Meskoun’. It is an ambitious, pan-Arab genre-bending series. Chraibi (“Mimosas”) will co-produce the series with partners.
Another series she is working on is “Noor” by the Moroccan multihyphenate Mohcine Besri, (“Urgent”) with whom she also makes the film “Bella” which she presents in Cairo. “Bella” tells the story of a widowed woman with a regular routine whose life becomes more interesting when she meets a taxi driver with a love for life.
“Nour” is a series set in a studio in the Moroccan desert city of Ouarzazate, where a series of unexplained events take place.
Involved in the diaspora of Arab filmmakers, Chraibi is also working on two first feature films by Youssef Michraf and Nora Elhorch.
Chraibi also helps the next generation of female Moroccan filmmakers with the Tamayouz Foundation. “I hope to host another writing-production workshop soon,” she said.
She has a bird’s-eye view of the Moroccan film industry and what needs to change.
“The industry is evolving rapidly and constantly evolving. Cinema consumption patterns have evolved thanks to online platforms, the democratization of the means of production and the internet, which gives access to cinema’s masterpieces from the comfort of the living room,” she said.
“But Morocco itself is a two-speed country. The big cities on the one hand and rural Morocco on the other. Most of this country is sadly neglected, and if I want to see something change, I want it to change for everyone. More audiovisual schools, more cinemas, more events such as the Atlas Workshops at the Marrakech Film Festival, more arthouse theatres, more material support for young initiatives.” For Chraibi, the hardest thing is that everything has to happen at the same time. Training filmmakers without having had art lessons at school is of little use. Having schools without a rigorous follow-up, and also without giving future prospects to its graduates.
“It’s a huge undertaking, but I’m very positive and excited to see a beautiful rising generation that has a genuine desire to make things happen. I want to have confidence in the promises of the current ministry, which has made great promises this year.”
A major challenge is the audience. As for the Moroccan film industry: “We are not there yet, mainly because there is no industry. By this I mean that films are produced but not watched by a local audience, which means they cannot generate real income, except for comedies for a very wide audience that the Moroccan public loves.
Chraibi added: “This is mainly due to the fact that there are very few cinemas in the whole country. Casablanca has the most theatres, but not even cities like Agadir. So films produced locally in Morocco don’t even get a chance to meet their audience and be widely viewed, if not at festivals. It’s such a shame as I personally believe strongly in the magic of a dark cinema and its potential to inspire and transport viewers.”