An interview with a very independent director

An interview with a very independent director
Je voudrais vous raconter (2005)
Dalila Ennadre has a favourite subject: the women of her home country. Not the stylish and emancipated citizens. The other ones, the forgotten ones. The outcasts. Those who, abandoned by their husbands, feed their children on hard bread dipped in tea. Those who slave away from morning to night for a meagre pay. Those who can’t read or write. Those who have nothing but their will to pull through. Those women are heroines. In fact that’s how one of her documentaries is titled, El Batallet, which is bound to make Dalila Ennadre famous.
Why women? “It’s my way to pay homage to my mother and anyways women are the turntables of life. When I show women, I inevitably speak of men and children, therefore of the family", explains this 40 year old who considers herself more a director than a documentary maker.
How does she define documentary? “It’s above all a film with the subjective viewpoint of the author. I personally can’t make out the difference. Being self-taught, I managed to avoid the indoctrination of theory. A film is primarily an exchange with the spectator. It’s the public who chooses to watch the film or not. It doesn’t ask itself whether it’s a documentary or a fiction. I believe that life is a permanent staging, unreeling in front of us each second. So you can move the furniture around or change it, certain that it will help to convey your message, but all you need is already there”, she reveals.
To her, documentaries should not be impartial, neutral or even objective. “You need to have a code of ethics. you have to be honest with the subject you deal with, the characters, the public that will watch the film. Being objective is not the issue, unless you want to make a reportage! A documentary is the product of a subjective viewpoint on the world we live in", she explains. She considers the documentary essential as, “compared to other countries Morocco was spared a gruelling colonisation. Many traditions were preserved and transmitted orally. Today, there is an urgent need to collect our memory and the documentary allows you to do that”.
She feels that the mission of the documentary is to create a link among people. “With my films, I really try to create a place where the public can meet a character and communicate directly with him. This helps to get acquainted with the character and to acknowledge his/her diversity. This is an essential element in the era of globalisation, which I am favourable to as long as diversity is safeguarded. You need to meet the other to stop being afraid of him/her and the documentary, to my understanding, makes this happen”, she explains.
Although most of her films were shot in Morocco, Dalila Ennadre laments the country’s lack of financial support. “Unfortunately my films are always financed by foreign channels like Arte, France 5, the Dutch channel NMO, the Centre National Cinématographique français and Belgian TV. I would have loved to be supported by Morocco, the Moroccan television, since it’s the way to unite people”, she underlines.
If Morocco's filming industry places the documentary at the bottom of its interests, it is due to the lack of distributors. She insists however that there is a strong public demand. “I feel it every time I show my films especially through the network of the French cultural institutes. People are happy and always tell me ”Nothing was added or cut out. You portrayed our reality”. They feel recognised and it moves them and gives them hope, because they feel someone is interested in them" she believes.
In addition to the cinemas in Morocco’s French cultural institutes, the works of Dalila Ennadre are shown on festivals. Femmes de la médina-El Batalett (2000) and Je voudrais vous raconter (2005) were screened on the occasion of Casa-ciné.
La caravane de Mé Aicha, co-produced by TV5 and 2M, was broadcast by 2M. “However I was asked to change some parts because some topics of the film were judged too elitist for the Moroccan people. I opposed myself totally because I consider the public brilliant and intelligent. Eventually, the channel broadcast the product as it was. It was meant to be broadcast six times but it ended up being shown more than thirty”, she mentions pleased.
Another mishap, still with 2M. “The channel bought Fama, Héroine sans gloire, but it was never broadcast. I still don’t know why”, regrets Ennadre and follows, “French cultural institutes are the main distribution channels, on television people often discover my films through TV5”.
When I ask her about the filming conditions in Morocco, Ennadre declares she feels quite free though some aspects have to dealt with. “You have to respect people, Moroccan laws, but I must say that I’m supported because I obtain my filming authorisations from the CCM without problems. With the local authorities it’s another story. I speak to people frankly and sincerely, I respect them, but I also respect my author’s viewpoint", she underlines.
As for the freedom of tone, she doesn’t consider herself “totally free” but considers that the situation is not hard to handle. “With the accession of king Mohamed VI, the heads of the Moroccans unlocked. They suddenly realised that things can be allowed and this is very important”, she recognises, though she doubts that her last work J’ai tant aimé (2008) - that explores Fadma’s life, a prostitute who sold her charms under the Indochina war – will be broadcast, due to its sensitive topic.
Despite the absence of official structures for documentary makers, Ennadre affirms she’s in touch with her male and female colleagues. She keeps a watchful eye on their work and believes that they’re starting to be interested in burning issues. “I saw a nice documentary lately, These hands by Hakim Belabes who speaks of the energy of the people in his home region. He covers all the artisans. He passes on the memory. How can we grow if we forget who we were? It’s essential for Moroccans as for everyone in the world to safeguard memory. Directors want to tell about the place they come from and who they are", she asserts.
Besides the recurring issues of immigration and identity that often appear in Moroccan documentaries, Ennadre feels that above all these films convey the need to change and move forward.


Dalila Ennadre was born in 1966 in Casablanca. After growing up in Paris, she lived, from 1985 to 1996, in Guyana, Germany, Morocco and Canada.
She realised her first documentaries in Montreal:

Par la grâce d’Allah in 1987 and Idoles dans l’ombre in 1992.
Back in Paris in 1996, she filmed:

Loups du désert
production L’Yeux Ouverts 1999
The daily life of a group of nomads in a South Moroccan oasis.

El Batalett, Femmes de la médina
production L’Yeux Ouverts
The daily life of a group of women living in an alley of Casablanca’s old medina. These women who use humour, love and solidarity to live their everyday life, tell of their fear of seeing their children dive into the sea to reach the West, of their hope to see a change in women’s rights, of their views on Morocco’s future.

The film won the following prizes:
Grand Prize at the International Festival on Environmental film
Documentary prize at the African Cinema Festival in Milan
Grand Prize at the Swiss Festival Media Nord South
Documentary Grand Prize at Traces de Vie Clermont-Ferrand in 2001

La caravane de Mé Aïcha
co-produced by France 5 / Jem Productions 2002
An illiterate savant woman aged 105 and former slave of Cheikh Ma el Aïnine, tells us the story of her master who united the West Sahara tribes to fight against the Spanish and French colonisers. She reveals the great quality of life in the desert, the poetry and the permanent quest for Knowledge.

Fama, une héroïne sans gloire
Co-produced by Ognon Pictures / Misr International Films (Egypt) 2004
Portrait of a great Resistance fighter who fought all her life for human rights in Morocco.

Je voudrais vous raconter
In 2005, co-produced by Play Films / Images Plus
3 years after the changes in the Family Code aimed at granting more rights to Moroccan women and ordered by King Mohamed VI, the filmmaker travels around several Moroccan regions to record the daily life of women and assess the effects of these new laws on their life.

The film won the following prize:
Jury Prize at the African Cinema Festival of Tarifa in 2007

J’ai tant aimé…
in 2008 Produced by AYA Films
The film covers the peculiar life of Fadma, a malicious and light-hearted woman aged 75, who at 20 enlisted as official prostitute of the French army, during the Indochina war with the colonial troops and their auxiliaries, the Moroccan Goumiers.

Journées cinématographiques de Carthage - Special Mention of the Jury
Traces de Vie – Clermont Ferrand
Dubaï International Film Festival
Cinéma du Reel - Paris

Fadwa Miadi
Translated from French by Nada Ghorayeb

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