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A conversation with Fatima Harandi, aka Raouia

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“Acting is my therapy”

Despite being one of Morocco’s best actresses with a career that stretches over two decades, Raouia is very humble. She tells us why acting matters so much to her and how being a member of the jury amazes her.

You once said that you didn’t care about awards. But this year you won the best actress award in both Morocco’s National Film Festival and Carthage’s Film Festival. Being recognized for your work, is it still so unimportant?

I didn’t mean that I didn’t care about prizes at all. But when I’m in acting, between the words “action” and “cut”, then I’m not thinking about awards. Of course they’re most welcome when they come your way. The award I received in Carthage, in particular, meant a lot to me because I was representing my country. It was a proof that we have a good cinema in Morocco, and good actors and technicians. But as I said, I don’t think about prizes when I’m in a movie set or on stage. Then I only think about the character I play.

This year you’re a member of the Festival’s jury. What does this mean to you ?

I never thought one day I’d be a member of any festival’s jury, let alone the Marrakech International Film Festival's. It’s a great honor because I used to think that I acted for me, my beloved ones and my neighbors. I never imagined so many people appreciated my work. I feel like I’m representing my country inside the jury. It’s my first experience as a jury member: I hope I will listen more than I will talk. I also hope to have a sound judgment on the films we have to assess.

Most of the characters you played were dramatic. Was it your own choice or that of the directors you worked with ?

It wasn’t my choice. That’s the way it worked in all the films I was cast in. Still, there was this mini-series called Cairoblanca, by Mohamed Ali Majboud, which aired during Ramadan, in which I played a funny character. The viewers liked it.

You previously stated that art is like an injection that keeps you alive. In Morocco, where actors and actresses need to live a decent and social life as well, is an acting career enough to make ends meet?

What I need from art to provide me with is “the spiritual nourishment”. I had another job for many years and now I’m retired and I have what I need for my daily life. But art is like oxygen to me. I thank God that my “deviance” was art. I had a troubled childhood. I could have become a vagrant or something similar. But instead, art found me. As I said before, I need art to keep on living. As someone who is asthmatic is desperately in need of oxygen, I too need to be on a stage or in set. Acting is my therapy”.