About Some Meaningless Events review – attempted murder and the movies

In this intriguing film, banned in the 70s, Mostafa Derkaoui grapples with the purpose of cinema on the streets of Casablanca

Here is an intriguing, bewildering fragment of what might be called underground new-wave cinema from Moroccan director Mostafa Derkaoui: a docu-fiction shown once in Paris in 1975, but then immediately banned by the Moroccan government after which it disappeared from view, resurfacing in 2016 when a negative was found in the archives of Filmoteca De Catalunya in Barcelona.

Derkaoui and a group of other young film-makers are shown hanging out in Casablanca, in a bar and on the streets and at the port, interviewing people about what they think cinema should be doing. Long scenes in bars spool past, apparently semi-improvised, in which the film-makers and their interviewees get very drunk, among lots of other drunk people who are always on the verge of an argument or a fist fight They occasionally ask young women in the bar what they think about cinema and shamelessly tell them they are beautiful enough to be in the movies, asking for their contact details.

Then they realise that one of the guys they have interviewed, a man at the port who had claimed to be a teacher, was in fact a dockworker, who had tried to kill his boss – a mob racketeer who was taking most of this man’s pay. And so there are more long conversations (only deadly serious and sober, this time) about whether they can include this footage, about whether this makes them complicit in a crime, or whether this is not an opportunity for precisely the kind of socially engaged cinema they’ve been yearning for.

It’s not clear how much of this is real and how much fiction: the entirety of the “murder” may be a reconstruction of a real case. An interesting archive oddity.

About Some Meaningless Events is available on Mubi from 20 January.

Contributor

Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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