December 11, 2007
"WAITING FOR PASOLINI"-- from Morocco, a prize-winning new film
Regular readers of this blog will know of my intense admiration for Pier Paolo Pasolini -- the immensely influential and openly gay Italian cultural giant (right) who is ranked among a handful of world-class poets in the second half of the last century, and was an inspired and original filmmaker to boot.
Well, my fellow Pasolinians will be interested to know that Moroccan filmmaker Daoud Aoula-Syad's new film, entitled "Waiting for Pasolini," has just won the prize at the 31st Cairo Film Festival for Best Arab Feature, with an award of 150,000 Egyptian pounds, as Variety reports.
Why is a Moroccan making a film about Pasolini? Thanks to David Hudson, the blogging guru of the must-read for film buffs, Greenciné Daily -- who, when I queried him about this new film, kindly dug up the following -- I can bring you a description of "Waiting for Pasolini," which Salwa Salem wrote for the multi-lingual Mediterranean news service ANSAmed:
"In a village in the middle of nowhere in Morocco, satellite dish salesman Thami announces to his fellow villagers the imminent arrival of a troupe of Italian film makers who will shoot a film there, thus triggering cinema fever. So begins ''Waiting for Pasolini'', the comedy by Moroccan film director Daoud Aoula-Syad presented yesterday in an international preview at the Cinema Festival of Cairo. ''I wanted to render homage to the great master of Italian cinema, whom I admire and I have studied for many years,'' the Moroccan film maker - who affirmed to have been influenced in his career also by 'Effetto notte' ['La nuit américaine'] by Truffaut, in which cinema emerges from the studio to strike a greater chord with audiences - explained to ANSAmed. ''Waiting for Pasolini'' is a bittersweet comedy which offers many hilarious moments, but also a cross section of a Moroccan village, which has contacts with the outside world only through satellite TV and suddenly becomes involved in the movie world. After the announcement by the satellite dish seller, mayhem erupts in the village, with children running in the streets shouting ''the cinema is coming'', while all the residents get ready to appear like walk-ons in the film, from the women who rush to put on their make up, to the old people, not at all distrustful, to Fakih, the preacher of the local mosque. Such is the level of excitement that it seems that the arrival of the cinema troupe will solve all the problems in the small village: debts will be repaid, books, chalks and uniforms for the school will be delivered, a new house will be built, and those who were never able to make it, will go on a pilgrimage to Mecca. ''Pasolini will pay amounts which will be sufficient for you, for the lives of your children and grandchildren,'' Thami tells the citizens of the village, boasting to be a friend of Pasolini.
''I shot the film in documentary style, drawing inspiration from a documentary made by one of my Moroccan colleagues about the walk-ons [extras] used by Pasolini while shooting 'Edipo Re' ['Oedipus Rex' ] in 1996 in a rural village, not far from the city of Ouzazarat, in southern Morocco,'' says Daoud Aoula-Syad, who shows with great intensity the disappointment of Thami at the news of the death of Pasolini, 30 years before. The man falls on his knees in front of the poster of the Italian artists hanging in his house and asks: ''Why did you die? Why didn't you wait for me?''. But it will be even worse for Thami when he will have to explain to his fellow villagers why Pasolini will not come and why the Italian troupe dismantles everything and leaves the village after just two days of shooting. ''And in the end,'' the director says ''there is nothing else left for Thami to do than go back to climbing on roofs and installing satellite dishes, with the awareness that Pasolini will never come again and that cinema is now tailored exclusively for the TV.''
Sounds like a very interesting film, and Daoud Aoula-Syad's comments above show Pier Paolo Pasolini's continuing influence around the globe -- let's hope "Waiting for Pasolini" makes it to the States!
FOR MORE ON PASOLINI, see my widely-reprinted article for the L.A. Weekly, "RESTORING PASOLINI: Thirty years later, new questions arise about who murdered the Italian cultural genius"; as well as the inspiring Pasolini poem, "Victory," hitherto unavailable in English, which DIRELAND was privileged to publish in exclusivity on the 30th anniversary of Pier Paolo's murder -- you can read this magnificent poem by clicking here.
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