Accreditation Festival Programme My account

19TH edition 11 TO 19 NOVEMBER 2022

Tribute

FARIDA BENLYAZID

Director, producer, screenwriter, writer and journalist

Morocco

October 28, 2022

Biography

Born in 1948 in Tangier, Farida Benlyazid is a Moroccan director, producer, screenwriter, writer and journalist. In 1970, she went to Paris to study literature and cinema at the University of Vincennes, then at the École Supérieure d'Études Cinématographiques. She did several film internships in the capital between 1976 and 1978 before founding her first production company, Kamar Films. As the first female Moroccan producer, she produced Jillali Ferhati's A Breach in the Wall, which was selected for the Semaine de la Critique at the Festival de Cannes in 1978. With this experience, she created her own production company, Tingitania, in 1990 and produced or co-produced her films until 2006.
In Paris, she first directed a short documentary, Identités de femmes, about North African immigrants in the Paris region. She then wrote the screenplay for Araïs min kassab / Poupées de roseau (Jillali Ferhati, 1981), which was selected for the Directors' Fortnight in Cannes in 1982. It was in Morocco that Farida Benlyazid wanted to make films and continue writing, so she eventually settled in Tangier. After working as a scriptwriter for several Moroccan directors, including Mohamed Abderrahman Tazi, for whom she wrote Badis (1989) and, later, Looking for My Wife’s Husband (1995), she began directing the feature film, Bâb es-sama' maftûh / A Door to the Sky (1988). In it, she depicts a woman's spirituality that is far removed from orthodox (male) religious dictates on the one hand and from feminist watchwords on the other. The film, which welected for many international festivals, has had an intercontinental career and is discussed to this day.
She then made a short documentary in Mali, Aminata Traoré, une femme du Sahel (1993), about the eponymous anti-globalisation activist.
Based on a popular tale, Benlyazid’s second feature film was Keïd Ensa /Women’s Wiles (1999). Her next films and television movies took her to Casablanca (Dar elbeïda, yâ dar elbeïda / Casablanca, Casablanca, 2002) before she returned to Tangier to adapt a novel by Angel Vasquez, La Vida Perra de Juanita de Tanger / The Wretched Life of Juanita Narboni (2006), which describes Tangier from the 1940s to the 1990s and 2000s through the peregrinations and continuous soliloquy of a heroine who is out of step with her own city.
Since that feature, apart from a fictional television film on slavery for 2M (Ster ma strer Allah / Family Secret, 2010), Benlyazid has directed documentaries that take her to the four corners of the country: Casaneyda (2007) ; Houdoudouahoudoud / Frontieras (2013), a docu-drama ; and a series of documentaries financed by the Meziane Foundation, which has the museum-like function of conserving Moroccan cultural heritage: Tamy Tazi, Creations Over Time (2013); a series of ten documentaries on Amazigh dances and music in remote villages of the Atlas Mountains and the desert (2014–2015); and Amazigh Wedding in the Anergui Valley (2016).
After writing the script of a biopic, Fatema: La Sultane inoubliable (2022) for director Mohamed Abderrahman Tazi, she embarked on a documentary project on Fatema Mernissi for which she wrote the script, Sur les pas de Fatema.
Born in 1948 in Tangier, Farida Benlyazid is a Moroccan director, producer, screenwriter, writer and journalist. In 1970, she went to Paris to study literature and cinema at the University of Vincennes, then at the École Supérieure d'Études Cinématographiques. She did several film internships in the capital between 1976 and 1978 before founding her first production company, Kamar Films. As the first female Moroccan producer, she produced Jillali Ferhati's A Breach in the Wall, which was selected for the Semaine de la Critique at the Festival de Cannes in 1978. With this experience, she created her own production company, Tingitania, in 1990 and produced or co-produced her films until 2006.
In Paris, she first directed a short documentary, Identités de femmes, about North African immigrants in the Paris region. She then wrote the screenplay for Araïs min kassab / Poupées de roseau (Jillali Ferhati, 1981), which was selected for the Directors' Fortnight in Cannes in 1982. It was in Morocco that Farida Benlyazid wanted to make films and continue writing, so she eventually settled in Tangier. After working as a scriptwriter for several Moroccan directors, including Mohamed Abderrahman Tazi, for whom she wrote Badis (1989) and, later, Looking for My Wife’s Husband (1995), she began directing the feature film, Bâb es-sama' maftûh / A Door to the Sky (1988). In it, she depicts a woman's spirituality that is far removed from orthodox (male) religious dictates on the one hand and from feminist watchwords on the other. The film, which welected for many international festivals, has had an intercontinental career and is discussed to this day.
She then made a short documentary in Mali, Aminata Traoré, une femme du Sahel (1993), about the eponymous anti-globalisation activist.
Based on a popular tale, Benlyazid’s second feature film was Keïd Ensa /Women’s Wiles (1999). Her next films and television movies took her to Casablanca (Dar elbeïda, yâ dar elbeïda / Casablanca, Casablanca, 2002) before she returned to Tangier to adapt a novel by Angel Vasquez, La Vida Perra de Juanita de Tanger / The Wretched Life of Juanita Narboni (2006), which describes Tangier from the 1940s to the 1990s and 2000s through the peregrinations and continuous soliloquy of a heroine who is out of step with her own city.
Since that feature, apart from a fictional television film on slavery for 2M (Ster ma strer Allah / Family Secret, 2010), Benlyazid has directed documentaries that take her to the four corners of the country: Casaneyda (2007) ; Houdoudouahoudoud / Frontieras (2013), a docu-drama ; and a series of documentaries financed by the Meziane Foundation, which has the museum-like function of conserving Moroccan cultural heritage: Tamy Tazi, Creations Over Time (2013); a series of ten documentaries on Amazigh dances and music in remote villages of the Atlas Mountains and the desert (2014–2015); and Amazigh Wedding in the Anergui Valley (2016).
After writing the script of a biopic, Fatema: La Sultane inoubliable (2022) for director Mohamed Abderrahman Tazi, she embarked on a documentary project on Fatema Mernissi for which she wrote the script, Sur les pas de Fatema.

Director

The Wretched Life of Juanita Narboni ( 2005)
Casablanca, Casablanca (Dar elbeïda, yâ dar elbeïda, 2002)

Frontieras (Houdoud oua houdoud, 2013)

*Women’s Wiles (Keïd ensa, 1999)—Best
Film of the Year (Morocco)

On the Terrace (Ila al-shurfa, short
métrage, segment of , 1995)

Une femme du Sahel, Aminata Traoré (documentary , 1993)

*A Door to the Sky (Bâb es-sama’
maftûh, 1989)

Identités de femme (1979)

Screenwriter

Fatema, La Sultane inoubliable (Mohamed Abderrahman Tazi
2022)

Looking for My Wife’s Husband (Al-bahth ‘an zaouj imara’atî, Mohamed
Abderahman Tazi, 1995)—Best Screenplay Award, Tangier
National Festival

Badis co-screenwriter, Mohamed Abderahman Tazi,
1989)

*Cane Dolls (Araïs min kassab, Jillali
Ferhati, 1981)—1st Prize Valencia

*also producer

Producer

A Breach in the Wall(Jarha fi-lhâ’it, Jilali Ferhati, 1978)

Selected Films

Women’s Wiles (Keïd ensa)

Frontieras

A Door to the Sky (Bâb as-sama maftûh)

The Wretched Life of Juanita Narboni (La vida perra de Juanita Narboni)