The Future of Marrakech – Storytelling

There are archetypes that exist in our heads about people and places, many of these are hardwired, or developed as part of our life experience, others are absorbed through storytelling in the media.

Morocco is a country so rich in stories and history that you could write a whole book based on just one of them, there are many stories which exist only in peoples heads and are not yet published. The vibrant history, culture and exotic mysticism here extends back through time and empires to the ancients.

“If you want to know where you will go you have to know where you came from” says Taoufik Aboudia.

So how to tell these wonderful stories? Well there is a Moroccan Film Festival here, but it has been postponed this year in order to renew and revitalise the concept so it becomes a platform both for Morocco and other cultures and to bring it up to date with the digital age.

Taoufik and his team at the Emerging Business Centre are already deeply entrenched in the media here, publishing digital magazines including the No 1, ‘Hespress’. So its not surprising that a man with this much energy and historical, philosophical and literary learning is championing the opportunity to enrich our understanding of Moroccan culture through film and storytelling.

The more disruptive the better – he talks about the floating whale above the Cop22 summit which was inspired by a story told by a local in the mountains about sea creature fossils found where the sea once was and has now subsided. This story was taken on board as a metaphor illustrating the fragility of man and his habitat, and in particular the problems with our oceans, hence the Whale.

If you are a writer, producer or journalist there is plenty to get your teeth into here by learning more about Islamic culture and the old Moroccan stories to make them relevant for audiences today.

I was reminded the other day that when I was a kid there were many re-run ‘epics’ on TV based on concepts as old as Gilgamesh (eg. Ben-Hur) . These big production numbers offered the chance to learn and escape to a different time, so why dumb down to Rom Com when you could gain insight into something really useful and culturally educating with a rich story from the past?

Morocco is a great place for filming too with diverse landscapes and the Atlas Studios in Ouarzazate where Gladiator (the last Epic I remember) was filmed. The plan is to bring the post production facilities here up to date as part of the ‘Creative City‘ project, which means the region will soon be a one stop shop for big international productions.

Featured photography – the historic Palais El Badi, you can feel the history here.