Flemish culture sector on mission to Morocco


Arts organisations in Flanders and Brussels are in Morocco this week with culture minister Sven Gatz to make contacts and formalise agreements, especially where the film industry is concerned

‘Countless Moroccan artists’

Flemish culture minister Sven Gatz is in Morocco this week on an official visit to encourage closer co-operation with the country’s arts sector and government departments. The visit is part of a new programme wherein the culture minister carries out overseas missions in much the same way as the department of foreign affairs and the economic ministry.

The new culture visits launched last November, with Gatz visiting Japan and China. This time around, he is accompanied by representatives from Darna, the Flemish-Moroccan culture house in Brussels.

Several arts and culture organisations are represented on the trip – which takes in Casablanca and Rabat – including from the dance, film, design and music sectors. “We hope to open up even more avenues for co-operation at a higher level in Morocco,” said Gatz. “And in particular we’re looking to encourage and formalise more co-operations within the film sector.”

Monthly film screenings

The film industry is looking to build on the success of Adil El Arbi and Bilal Fallah, Flemish directors of Moroccan descent. They are the directing duo behind the award-winning films Image, Black and Patser.

It’s also good timing for the film When Arabs Danced, which premieres this week and is the work of Belgian-Moroccan director Jawad Rhalib. Other Belgians film directors of Moroccan descent have been supported by the Moroccan film industry, including Brahim Chkiri (Road to Kabul) and Mohamed Amin Benamraoui (Adios Carmen). The former has even started a production house in Morocco.

Co-operations between the two film industries, including between production houses, festivals and cinemas, will be more formalised during Gatz’s trip. One of these is a new monthly programme in Brussels’ Cinéma Palace that features films made by Belgian filmmakers of Moroccan descent. That programme starts next month.

“Flanders and Brussels has a substantial Moroccan community,” said Mehdi Marechal of Darna. “And among them are countless artists – filmmaker, musicians, fine artists, actors and organisations. They personify the strong cultural band between Flanders and Morocco.”

Photo: Sven Gatz (left) and Moroccan artist Youness Atbane, who lives and works in Casablanca and Berlin