(Casablanca) A young generation of Moroccan filmmakers has just emerged at the Cannes Film Festival where three of them won awards in parallel sections, a new wave that prefigures a revival of the 7th art in Morocco.

“The Moroccan films screened in Cannes are among the best in the history of cinema in Morocco,” Moroccan critic Bilal Marmid, who covered the Cannes fortnight, told AFP.

The 32-year-old director Asmae El Moudir won the coveted prize for directing in the Un certain regard selection with Kadib Abyad (The mother of all lies).

Her documentary explores her family’s haunted, untold past and, beyond that, that of the Moroccan kingdom during the “years of lead” of Hassan II’s reign.

Lacking archive footage, the filmmaker imagined an ingenious device by filming a model of the neighborhood of her childhood in Casablanca as well as figurines to narrate a family past, with the “hunger riots” suppressed in the background. blood, in June 1981 in Casablanca.

“Making this film took me ten years and allowed me to come to terms with this past, even if it could have been violent,” Asmae El Moudir, who features members of her family, told AFP. .

“Being in Cannes is a childhood dream come true. Being selected is wonderful, but winning prizes is even more so,” she exclaims.

It is also in Casablanca that Kamal Lazraq, 38, set the scene for his first feature film: Les meutes, jury prize in the same Un certain regard selection.

The film takes viewers on a hellish night in the suburbs of the metropolis where a man and his son, marginalized, try to make a corpse disappear after a kidnapping that has gone wrong.

Les meutes, described by Mr. Lazraq as “a feverish road movie through Casablanca”, is based on two non-professional actors, Ayoub Elaid and Abdellatif Masstouri.

“I like to start from a blank page and build the film with my actors, because they bring a lot of their experience and their experiences”, confides to AFP the Casablanca native back from the Côte d’Azur. “I try to give them some freedom to create something authentic and intense together.”

After the screening, “we had the impression that the film had been understood as it should be, that we hadn’t taken a wrong turn, so it’s a great relief”, underlines Kamal Lazraq, for who “the award is the icing on the cake” after a “quite long and difficult” shoot.

“The films are all different, it creates emulation, I hope it will encourage young people (Moroccans) to embark on the adventure”, he pleads.

A call that resonates with Zineb Wakrim, a 22-year-old apprentice director who received with her short film Ayyur (Moon in Amazigh, the Berber language) the 3rd prize at Cinef, dedicated to film school films.

She paints the portrait of two teenagers suffering from the “disease of the children of the moon”, a rare genetic pathology whose victims cannot bear the rays of the sun.

Presenting her short film at Cannes was “a great victory for young people”, says this graduate of the École Supérieure des Arts Visuels de Marrakech (ESAV).

Moroccan cinema hatched in the 1970s and 80s with the presentation by a few filmmakers of innovative and powerful works, such as Mustapha Derkaoui (On some events without significance, 1974), Ahmed Bouanani (The mirage, 1980) or again Ahmed Maanouni (Alyam Alyam, 1978).

Over the past two decades, other directors – such as Faouzi Bensaïdi (A Thousand Months, 2003), Nabil Ayouch (God’s Horses, 2012) or recently Maryam Touzani (Le bleu du caftan, 2022) – have distinguished themselves, but rather individual title without overall dynamics.

Morocco seeks to support and promote its cinema, with an annual public aid budget for production of 60 million dirhams (about $8 million) since 2012.