French-Moroccan Producer Lamia Chraibi Talks Up New Production Slate

MARRAKECH – One of Morocco’s highest-profile female producers has got her hands full with a slew of new projects. Lamia Chraibi (“Mimosas,” “Jahilya”) of the Casablanca-based production shingle Laprod has revealed a dull new production slate to News Brig that she is working on beyond her current focus, the production “Thank You Satan” directed by Morocco’s Hicham Lasri (“Cruelty Free”).  

Previously called “Happy Lovers,” the dark comedy is about a penniless novelist who plans to assassinate a famous author that has been issued a fatwa. He wants to use the money to buy his wife and new children a place in the sun.

“It will be a first of its kind and I cannot wait for this movie to be made,” she tells News Brig.

Other projects in the works include drama/horror “Le Refuge” by Talal Selhami (“Achora”). The director described the film as a Polanski-sequence in style. The story unfolds inside an apartment with very few characters. 

“It is a movie we are currently developing that has a beautiful storyline and approach to the psychological genre,” she added. 

Chraibi is also developing a number of series including “Miara,” the first series by Selhami. His passion project revolves around a female Berber warrior in the 8th century trained by an old man. 

Lasri is also trying his hand with series with “Meskoun.” It is an ambitious, pan-Arab genre-bending series. Chraibi (“Mimosas”) will produce the series with partners.

Another series she is working on is “Noor” by  the Moroccan multihyphenate Mohcine Besri,  (“Urgent”) with whom she is also making the film “Bella” that she is presenting in Cairo. “Bella” tells the story of a female widow with a fixed routine whose life becomes more interesting when she meets a cab driver with a love for life. 

“Nour” is a series set in a studio in the Moroccan desert town of Ouarzazate where a series of unexplained events take place. 

Involved in the diaspora of Arab filmmakers, Chraibi is also working on two first feature films by Youssef Michraf and Nora Elhorch.

Chraibi is also helping the next generation of female Moroccan filmmakers with the Tamayouz Foundation. “I hope to be organizing another writing-production workshop soon,” she said.

She has a bird’s eye view of the Moroccan film industry and what needs to change.

“The industry moves fast and is constantly evolving. Consumption patterns have evolved in film thanks to online platforms, the democratization of the means of production, and the Internet, which gives access to the masterpieces of cinema from the comfort of one’s living room,” she said. 

“But Morocco itself is a two-speed country.  The big cities on one side and rural Morocco on the other. Most of this country is unfortunately neglected, and if I want to see something change, I would like it to change for everyone. More audiovisual schools, more movie theaters, more events like the Atlas Workshops at the Marrakech Film Festival, more art house theaters, more material support for young initiatives.” For Chraibi, the hardest part is that everything must be done at the same time. Training filmmakers without having art lessons at school doesn’t make much sense. Having schools without a rigorous follow-up, and without giving future perspectives to its graduates neither. 

“It’s a vast undertaking, but I am very positive and I am delighted to see a beautiful rising generation that has the sincere desire to make things happen. I want to be confident in the promises of the current ministry which has made big promises this year.”

One key challenge is audiences. Regarding Morocco’s film industry, “we’re not there yet mainly because there is no industry. I mean by this that films are produced, but not viewed by a local public, thus not being able to produce real income, except for very wide audience comedies that the Moroccan audience loves.” 

Chraibi added: “This is mainly due to the fact that there is a very small number of movie theaters across the country. Casablanca has the most theaters but even cities like Agadir don’t. So films that are produced locally, do not even get the chance to meet their audience and be widely viewed in Morocco, if it’s not in festivals. It’s such a shame, because I personally strongly believe in the magic of a dark movie theater and its potential to inspire and transport the viewers.”