Cannes 2012 is done, and as is usually the case every year, there was very little representation from the African Diaspora, and we've pretty much highlighted the small handful of feature films of note that fall under that category – from Senegalese filmmaker, Moussa Touré’s La Pirogue (The Pirogue), to the the award-winning Beasts Of The Southern Wild.
Add to that Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch's Les Chevaux De Dieu (God's Horses).
A first-time Official Selection at Cannes, the film is loosely based on the terrorist attacks that took place in Casablanca on May 13, 2003. Ayouch was shocked by these attacks that were committed by a gang of kids from a neighbourhood that he knew very well, and with this film, he wanted to essentially humanize the suicide bombers, and show that they themselves are/were also victims.
The film left the festival empty handed (no awards, no distribution), despite really strong reviews – those I read anyway. Maybe its POV (showing that the suicide bombers were victims themselves) is what's keeping distributors away. Maybe not.
The Hollywood Reporter called it an…
… Engrossing, realistic study of a Moroccan slum and how it becomes a breeding ground for young terrorists.
… this is less a film about terrorists than an intimate portrait of boys growing up in a toxic environment. All the non-pro actors turn in natural performances… Tech work is high quality throughout…
And Variety had this to say about the film:
… the pic delves into a shantytown atmosphere of machismo, wounded pride and powerlessness, which collectively act as a petri dish for fanaticism. By spending considerable time on milieu and the friends as kids, Ayouch sets his film apart, delineating personalities that avoid the cookie-cutter repetition seen elsewhere. "Horses" will trot confidently into Euro arthouses.
But maybe not American arthouses I presume… :)
I'm obviously interested and curious to see this, and hope it makes its way Stateside eventually, maybe via one of the local African festivals – especially those here in NYC like the ADIFF and the NYAFF.
I uncovered 3 clips from the film, which you can watch below: