Film director Doha Moustaquim, at 23-years-old, is leading a new wave of female filmmakers from Morocco who are changing the gender dynamics of the film industry.
The Casablanca-based director made her first film, Bye-bye la France, in 2020. The comedy film tells the story of Moulay Al Mahdi, a rich and narcissistic young man, who has lessons to learn as he finds himself on the streets overnight, without money nor identity.
In the film, Doha Moustaquim was keen to show different perspectives of real Moroccan life in her work and how everyone has a unique story and life challenges. Speaking to Morocco World News (MWN), she said: “We made sure to include Marrakech in the story as its day warmth reflected the sweet treatment that Marrakech gave its visitors during the day, and how its night reflected the harsh life of its homeless people.”
Just as she strives to showcase different stories of life in Morocco in her filmmaking, her own story has had its challenges too. As a young child raised in Derb Sultan by a deaf and mute father and an Amazigh mother who spoke only average Darija, Doha Mostaquim initially found difficulties using words to express herself.
To overcome the challenges, Doha Moustaquim took to music and writing from a young age. But it was after watching videos on YouTube, listening to podcasts, and enjoying films and shows on television that she discovered her passion for film and a resonance for filmmaking. She told MWN: “I got attached to filmmaking so fast because I realised it was the tool that best allowed me to express myself in such an authentic way.”
Doha Moustaquim’s career started out making her own one-minute videos on Instagram. The experience confirmed to her that filmmaking was what she wanted to do and she pursued it regardless of the industry being male-dominated. She said: “I have struggled to make people trust me for my gender more than I had to for my potential.”
The filmmaker cites film director Martin Scorsese as an inspiration as well as her parents who have always supported her in the pursuit of her dream. Doha Mousatquim added: “My parents are the reason why I have never quit, and never will.”
Doha Moustaquim, who also directed a short film Silent Screams last year, is one of a growing number of female filmmakers from Morocco. Others that have walked their path include Laila Marrakchi who directed the 2005 Marock and later went on to be a director on the Netflix series, The Eddy. Filmmaker Leila Kilani made numerous documentary films as a freelance journalist in the 1990s before directing her first feature film, On The Edge, the story of two street-smart young women in Tangier. Filmmaker and screenwriter Narjiss Nejjar has directed numerous films including 2011’s The Rif Lover, about a young woman who crosses paths with a drug trafficker.
For those young Moroccan females who come behind Doha Moustaquim in their pursuit to follow their dreams, the filmmaker has advise for them. She explained: “Do it with passion, don’t ever forget that you chose this field to share your art with the world, so don’t do it with a frustrated and stressed mind. You are here doing something that people enjoy watching, so do it passionately and with love. Aim to touch hearts and leave a legacy, not to make figures and drown in money, pour your heart into it and people will feel the energy of your work.”
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about entertainments and storytelling of all kinds.