The Agadir Worldwide Movie and Migration Pageant, a bridge between the college and the seventh artwork [Interview]

This year marks the eighteenth edition of this International Film and Migration Festival (FICM) in Agadir. We have just come out of a very difficult period, both for the migrants and for the events and for this festival which is significant for the cultural life of Agadir. How do you feel about taking on and finally welcoming people from the field of cinema and emigration?

We finally say! In fact, we had to postpone the dates of this edition three times. Postponing a date when we are in the final stages of preparation often blocks the process. But on the bright side, I can say that it gave us the opportunity to refine a beautiful program. This year, the activities are very rich, very diversified. There were film sessions, conferences, photographic exhibitions, thematic workshops… This program, I think, lived up to the expectations of the public at this festival.

You don’t just do movie screenings. There are feature films and short films, but also conferences. What are these meetings for and what do they allow, within a festival dedicated to cinema?

We see this festival as a thematic meeting. Since its first edition, it has focused on the topic of migration. This is the whole identity of this cultural and artistic event. We try to bring together academics, researchers in migration, human rights and refugee rights, with filmmakers, directors, screenwriters and creators of the seventh art…

This has given us, according to our experience, great projects and great films about migration. From a research point of view, with the artistic touch of the director or screenwriter, this makes for beautiful films. Experience has shown us that the combination of these two profiles – researcher and filmmaker – gives rise to beautiful productions.

Sociology, geography, demography, all these academic specialties, help to fuel the artistic and creative work of cinema. Do you have concrete examples of these collaborations in the seventh art with academics?

Absolutely. It was during the first editions of the festival that, for example, “Hna w lhih” and “And after?” by the late Mohamed Ismail, and the latest editions of “Where are you going, Moshe?” by Hassan Benjelloun… They are films thought, thought and written here. Even the casting of one of these films was done during an edition of the festival. Two years later, it was programmed right here.

This spirit of keeping up with the news and changes experienced by migration in Morocco, a transit country that has now become an installation, is also our festival’s spirit. We follow these developments and there is always news to show to the public, through projections. It is in this spirit that, from the outset, we chose to present feature and short fiction films on the subject of migration. These are not documentaries, real-life stories, but more an artistic vision that combines humor with the laceration of migration. In fact, fiction offers more possibilities to see migration from multiple angles.

Mohamed Irgui, director of the FICM

You quoted “Where are you going, Moshe?” which talks about the Moroccan-Jewish migration. There was also, on Thursday night, the screening of a film about the Moroccan-Jewish community in Israel. There was a long moment of amnesia, so a recollection now?

We can say that it is now a resumption of relations between the Moroccan Jewish community and the emigrant community. The festival, as an event held by a civil society association, has always encouraged us to contribute to this approach, to activate this memory. In previous editions, we paid tribute to director Izza Génini. We show films that recount the life of Moroccan Jewish communities. It is a resumption of ties with our Moroccans around the world and especially Moroccans of the Jewish faith.

Is there a moment to remember that marked you during this week, between laughter, joy or emotions?

Now, after almost three years of the health crisis linked to Covid-19, what marks us is this resumption of human relationships, physical encounters with people, with the public that showed a thirst for culture, with people who make us vibrate, give us more enthusiasm to work and organize such an event. We’ve done an online edit before, but it’s never the same.

The contact with the cinema, the public, the reception of our guests, the faces and personalities that came within a framework of openness and tolerance… All of this makes this festival stand out for us, as organizers. As soon as the meeting begins, it is no longer our event, but the entire city, our audience and our guests. Programming is well executed at all levels. This year, we had the possibility of having two rooms for the projection of films in competition or in panorama. It is a new breath for the festival and for Agadir.

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