ABDELLAH MASBAHI (1936 – 2016)

ABDELLAH MASBAHI (1936 – 2016)

Director & screenwriter, Morocco

Presentation

He was born in 1936 in El Jadida (Morocco). After obtaining a degree in Economics from Fribourg University (Switzerland), and a Directing and Screenwriting diploma from ESEC (École Supérieure d’Études Cinématographiques) in Paris, he threw himself wholeheartedly into the world of arts and culture.

He started out in theater in 1956 in Paris, working as an intern under Jean Vilar. This enabled him to then write and stage several Moroccan plays, including Al Barbari, Al Waret Al Mawrout, and Goha et les 40 Mazlot.

A few months later, he was appointed director of the Moroccan Film Agency (a subsidiary of Francorex-Films Paris) and headed to Egypt to gain work experience in the renowned Studios Cinématographiques in Cairo.

His subsequent posts included spells as director of the Cinema Department and president of the Film Censorship unit at the Ministry of Information, interim director of the Moroccan Cinematographic Center, and director of the Comptoir National du Film (movie distribution and exhibition).

The 1960s were very active for Masbahi. Whilst ensuring his administrative duties, he devoted as much time as possible to his two longstanding passions, cinema and theater. He sat on the Short Film Jury at the Berlin Film Festival in 1962, when director King Vidor headed the Official Jury; he wrote the play Le Mur, staged at the Schiller Theater in Berlin and the Thalia Theater in Hamburg; and he wrote and directed the medium-length film Chourok in Kuwait for that country’s Ministry of Information.

During this period, he also directed dozens of films and shows for Moroccan national television, including drama series, feature films, TV films, and light entertainment shows. In 1972, he wrote and directed his first feature-length movies: Silence: No Entry and Tomorrow the Land Will Not Change.

To develop his career, he decided to work in the Middle East, especially Egypt, where he spent many years. In 1975, he began writing the film Where Are You Hiding the Sun?, which he produced and directed in Egypt. In 1976, he was appointed director of the Arab Center of International Cooperation in Dubai, then in 1977 he was named president of the Arab Cinematographic Union in Cairo. In 1979, he wrote and directed Fares Gharnata, a 30-episode series for Kuwaiti Radio Television, then in 1980-1981, he made the film I Shall Write Your Name in the Sand, also written, directed and produced in Egypt.

A turning point in his career came in 1983, when he was commissioned to write and direct the big-budget production Afghanistan, pourquoi ?, which he decided to shoot in Morocco using local crew and actors alongside international stars like Chuck Connors, Giuliano Gemma, Irène Papas, Marcel Bozzuffi, Hamidou, Souad Hosni, and Abdallah Guaiet. But various unfortunate circumstances meant the film was never finished.

This did not stop Masbahi continuing to work on the creation and production of numerous projects, most of which he sadly would never see through to fruition, mainly for health reasons.

Abdellah Masbahi passed away on September 16, 2016.

Selected Filmography

Director & screenwriter

1965      CHOUROK – medium length

1966-1970           250 productions TV pour la TVM

AL GHARIB – ADDOUMIA – AL HISSAR – AL ENSANE LA YAECH MARATAYNE … – TV

HADIT AL AJYAL

1972      SILENCE, NO ENTRY (Silence, sens interdit – Sukut al itijah al mamnu)

TOMORROW THE LAND WILL NOT CHANGE (Demain la Terre ne changera pas – Ghaganian tatabaddala al ardh)

1973      MES CHERS FRÈRES

1974      THE GREEN LIGHT (Le Feu vert – Al dawe al akhdar)

1975      WHERE ARE YOU HIDING THE SUN? (Où cachez-vous le Soleil ?)

1979      FARÈS GHARNATA – TV, 30 épisodes

1980      I SHALL WRITE YOUR NAME IN THE SAND (J’écrirai ton nom sur le sable) – sorti en 1985 sous le titre LAND OF CHALLENGE (La Terre du défi – Ardhu l tahaddy)

1981      TAREK IBNOU ZIAD

1983      AFGHANISTAN, POURQUOI ? – censuré en 1984, sorti 32 ans après au Maroc sous le titre AFGHANISTAN, DIEU ET SES ENNEMIS

1987-1989           AÏCHA LA FEMME INCONNUE – TV, 30 épisodes

LE BONHEUR DES AUTRES – TV, 15 épisodes

LES ANNÉES DE L’ARTISAN – doc

FANTASIA – doc

LES HOMMES NE PLEURENT PAS – TV, 5 épisodes

1990-1992           25 longs métrages vidéos

2008-2009           Trilogie L’APPEL DU ROI : LE ROI EST AVEC NOUS – LE ROI ET TOUS LES MAROCAINS – LE ROI EST LÀ

Trilogie AL MAGHARIBA : EL QODS, BAB AL MAGHARIBA – HOLOCAUSTE DE GHAZA – LES MAROCAINS DE JÉRUSALEM

---           GUANTANAMO