The film was chosen byan independent commission nominated by the Moroccan Cinema Center (CCM), composed of writers, directors, producers, distributors, plus a representative of the CCM, and was chaired by writer and painter Mahi Binebine.
Ayouch is one of the Arab world’s best-known directors. Three of his previous features have been put forward by Morocco as its Oscar submission – Mektoub” (1998), “Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets” (2000), and “Horses of God” (2013).
In June, he became the first Moroccan to be invited as a lifetime member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where one of the pre-requisites to be invited was that at least two of his films must have been shortlisted for the Academy Awards.
Ayouch said that he “was surprised and happy” to be invited to join the Academy.
“It’s a recognition of my work by the world’s oldest film academy and will probably help Moroccan cinema, and the cinema of the region, to get more visibility in Hollywood,” he said.
He added: “I think that it is a smart decision by the Academy Awards to open up to the rest of the world’s film industries, especially the Arab world, at a time when the U.S. administration is getting more aggressive and closed.”
“Razzia” is his most ambitious project to date, weaving together five separate stories over a 40-year period. One of the film’s recurring themes is a reference to the 1942 classic “Casablanca,” starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, which is ironically one of Morocco’s best-known symbols, even though it was shot entirely in Hollywood during WWII.
“In both films, people are fighting against an ideology,” Ayouch explained. “They’re fighting against the Nazis in ‘Casablanca’ and…