the town of owls
Run time: 1:37:32
Director: Azilarabe Alaoui
The Town of Owls is an isolated residential community situated in the High Atlas Mountains. It is inhabited by families and guards of a secret political prison camp, which remained out of history for a long time until the early 1990s. Guards spend their long days back and forth between the secret prison and the village, through a suspension bridge built upon a deep valley that connects the village with the fortress prison. The story is about people from different places with dissimilar destinies, yet coalesced together by a common fate that makes them realise that the Town of Owls is in fact a titanic prison in which everyone, including guards and residents, are held detainees.
The political environment of the post-colonial era in Morocco, which was characterized by a struggle for power between different fractions and the influence it had on life in the city and in the countryside, had a strong impact on me as a moviemaker and on my generation in general. The city of Rachidia (Qsar Souq), where I spent my childhood, is one the places that impacted and influenced my intellectual and aesthetic view to the world and its issues.
In my movie, Androman...of Coil and Blood, I penetrated into the world of marginalization and I depicted the life of marginalized people with its psychological, social and economic violence. Through this experience, I developed this vision and I travelled through it backward in time to places of ancient ages.
The movie, Androman, was the threshold of this vision through which I approach humanity and human beings as social and political icons buffeted by the various struggles and challenges including freedom of thought, difference of opinion, identity, existence and dignity which are the most basic rights of citizenship. I thus adopted a strong expressive approach based on image to depict the reality.
I embarked on the theme of “The Village of Owls” and I penetrated into the deep Morocco in order to depict marginalization and say the unsaid about human beings, either prisoners or jailers. This is a view that goes in line with the approach adopted by Morocco, namely reconciliation with its political and intellectual history.
“The Village of Owls” movie is a dramatization of a personal experience rather than an imaginary story derived from tales and news. It is about a political prison that was known in the history of Morocco and that was located in my region. I grew in an environment where we cohabitated with guards and shared the same place with them. We used to fear them and fear for them. We did not really understand the nature of their work but we surely knew that they lead a secret work that they do not like.
Making this movie, “The Village of Owls”, is a contribution to the rehabilitation of that simple man who was taken to the unknown and lived a life of a jailer just to realize that he is jailed for life.
This movie sheds light on the jailer’s life, his worries and his existence that shape the tragedies of detainees. It is also considered a support for marginalized people irrespective of the nature of their works and affiliations. Ultimately, this movie is a support for humanity.