“Cameras are our weapons”

Filming "475: When marriage becomes punishment". Photo: Guerilla Cinema (used with permission).

Filming “475: When marriage becomes punishment”. Photo: Guerilla Cinema (used with permission).

By Paul Adrian Raymond

RABAT, Morocco – “In Morocco, what really happens to people is never the subject of a documentary,” says Hamza Mahfoudhi.

Coming from a film-maker who’s persona non grata at the government’s all-powerful Moroccan Cinematographic Center (CCM), it could sound like an admission of defeat. But from Hamza, it’s a declaration of purpose.

He grins defiantly as he pulls up a chair at a hideaway bar in downtown Rabat. With a black hoody and a loose afro, he looks more like a reggae singer than a pioneering movie director. But he’s already got one ground-breaking film to his name, and he’s working on the next.

Hamza’s a founding member of Guerrilla Cinema, a collective of young film-makers who use cinema as a mode of political expression, for whom every film they make is a shout of defiance against restrictions on their freedom of expression.

Films like “475: When marriage becomes punishment”. This hour-long documentary, directed by Nader Bouhmouch, tells the story of Amina Al Filali, a 16-year-old girl from the town of Larache who killed herself with rat poison after her family forced her to marry her rapist.

“475” was a ground-breaking critique of archaic laws and long-held taboos in Moroccan society. Hamza says making it was a liberating experience.

“We’re illegal so we’re free,” he says. “We want to film our ideas without any pressure or repression. We don’t just want people to see things that entertain them. We think people need to see what’s happening – to see reality.”

“Cameras are our weapons” is my first feature story for The Outpost, a new magazine published out of Beirut. You can subscribe to it through the website or buy print copies at:

  • Abu Dhabi (The Space)
  • Amman (Aramex stands)
  • Beirut (All bookshops)
  • Cairo (Darb Center, Al Kotobgeya)
  • Dubai (All bookshops)
  • Kuwait (The Yard)
  • Amsterdam (Athenaeum Boekhandel)
  • Berlin (Do you read me?!, BBMultiples, Westberlin bar&shop, Pro QM)
  • London (Foyles, Al Saqi Bookshop, Material)
  • Madrid (Magasand)
  • Paris (Shakespeare and Co)
  • Istanbul (Robinson Crusoe)
  • New York (McNally Jackson, Idlewild Books)
  • Toronto (Art Metropole)
  • Singapore (Magpie, BooksActually, The U Cafe)
  • Australia (The Brainery Store)
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