The Marrakech International Film Festival paid tribute on Wednesday evening to director Farida Benlyazid, a pioneer of Moroccan cinema. During this festive evening, which was attended by great artists of the seventh art and personalities from the world of art, culture and the media, Farida Benlyazid received the Gold Star from the hands of the great artist Younes Megri.
On this occasion, Farida Benlyazid expressed her gratitude to His Majesty King Mohammed VI for having created this festival, as she expressed her thanks to His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid, President of the Marrakech International Film Festival Foundation, as well as to the organizers of this international festival, who invite him every year.
The Moroccan director was delighted with this tribute which gives her “the feeling of a rebirth”, recalling that she was a member of the jury during the first edition of this festival. “I particularly like this festival which promotes the first works of artists”, she confided, adding that over the years she has had the opportunity to see “wonderful” films whose selection has always been “excellent”. Ms Benlyazid also expressed her love for the “crazy dreams that represent the first films”, evoking her first feature film “A Door to the Sky”, the digital version of which gave it “a second life” and which will be screened this Thursday as part of this festival.
The icon of Moroccan cinema also expressed her thanks to the Tunisian producer Hassan Daldoul who encouraged her to make her first feature film, as well as all the people with whom she collaborated during her artistic career.
For her part, journalist Fatima Loukili said that this tribute is an opportunity to celebrate “an icon who occupies a special place on the Moroccan cultural scene”, adding that Ms. Benlyazid is an “exceptional woman, with noble values and sensitivity on edge”.
It is in Tangier, the city open to the world and the city of exceptional cultural richness, that the figurehead of Moroccan cinema has forged an identity, continued Ms. Loukili, indicating that Farida Benlyazid has “accessed the world of images and words, mastering its codes and thus demonstrating its ability to grasp and listen to the sufferings of women and their concerns”.
In 1970, Farida Benlyazid left for Paris to study literature and cinema at the University of Vincennes, then at the Ecole Supérieure d’Etudes Cinematographiques. She did several film internships before founding her first production company “Kamar Films”. Having become the first Moroccan producer, she produced Jillali Ferhati’s film, “A Breach in the Wall”, which was selected for Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival in 1978.
In Paris, she directed a short documentary “Identities of women”, on North African immigrants in the Paris region. She then wrote the screenplay for “Poupées de reed” (Jillali Ferhati, 1981), selected for the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 1982.
After having been a screenwriter for several Moroccan directors, including Mohamed Abderrahman Tazi, for whom she wrote “Badis” (1989) and “A la Recherche du mari de ma femme” (1995), she embarked on the production of a feature film: “The Door to Heaven” (1988).
His second feature film is inspired by a popular tale “Ruses de femmes” (1999). Her next films and TV films will take her to Casablanca with “Casablanca, Casablanca” (2002) before her return to Tangier for the adaptation of a novel by Angel Vasquez, “Juanita de Tanger” (2006).