une réalisatrice sur les traces de ses aïeuls hassanis
a filmmaker in the footsteps of her Hassani ancestors
par/by Amina Barakat
Aida Bouya, une réalisatrice sur les traces de ses aïeuls hassanis
"Le cinéma est un mode d'expression qu'il faut exploiter dans le bon sens"
rédigé par Amina Barakat
publié le 14/12/2022
Aida Bouya, a filmmaker in the footsteps of her Hassani ancestors
"Cinema is a mode of expression that must be guided by common sense”
Interview by Amina Barakat
Translation from French by Beti Ellerson. African Women in Cinema Blog in collaboration with Africine.org. Image: africine.org
En Français: http://africine.org/entretien/aida-bouya-une-realisatrice-sur-les-traces-de-ses-aieuls-hassanis/15512
Filmmaker Aida Bouya is a born-and-bred Sahrwai from the regions of southern Morocco. On the strength of her deep-rooted expectations, she breaks the chains that confines her to the rites of a conservative society—to explore other universes. In so doing, she chooses a domain that takes her elsewhere. This universe is none other than the 7th art. Her first step towards this glimmering space was her participation in the 1st edition of the festival du patrimoine arabe (Arab heritage festival) which took place in 2020, in Cairo, Egypt.
Her objective of course, is to win the prize for the 1st oeuvre. A captivating documentary, informative and well developed, drawing from the specificities of the region of the Sahara of southern Morocco. From a selection of sixty-three films from several Arab countries, celebrating an Arab heritage that protects its identity and safeguards its history, her work was noteworthy.
Aida is one of the few Sahrawi women who has dared to go behind the camera, watching out for opportune moments to capture images specific to the Sahara, with all that distinguishes it. Employing her 3rd eye, she operates with sensitivity; at a time when the presence of women in the media space was still very reticent because of the mentality of a patriarchal society, which still believed in the difference between men and women, based on a sexist segregation.
Le coussin de massage, her first documentary, attracted several festivals, which was a motivating factor that pushed her to continue to pursue a career in this area.
To find out more about this filmmaker with the famous piece of colored fabric, a symbol of the clothing of the desert, Africiné asked her these few questions.
Why did you choose to go behind the camera, in a rather male-dominated profession, especially in a society such as the Sahara?
My choice is the result of an experience I had working in the media and my participation in various training sessions at the International Center for Journalists in Washington, DC. Afterwards, I received a prize concerning street children and single mothers, in an investigative survey program which deals with these kinds of situations that are only getting worse in the many societies weakened by poverty. Hence, my relationship with the camera has become a passion. Giving a sense of place to the ideas that germinate and circulate in my mind, I became increasingly interested in cinema, evolving into this wonderful magical space and decided to make it my profession.
Armed with a very strong personality which allows her to manage her life according to her own wishes, the image of the Sahrawi woman is unique. Do you have any red lines that should not be crossed when dealing with these subjects?
First, the Sahrawi woman is like all Moroccan women, except that she has a charisma that is particular to her, that sets her apart. She is highly respected and always has her say in the matter. She enjoys notoriety; she has a privileged place in the society where she lives and evolves as a mother, wife and active member. Hence, it is present in all areas, so why not cinema, even if it has only been recently adopted by the Sahrawis of the region. Moreover, I am impressed by its presence which prods me to go beyond the actual events in order to highlight its relationship with the sacred of the still conservative Sahrawi society, and to ensure respect for life and safeguard it from the reverberations that may come when dealing with taboo subjects.
Everywhere there are topics that attract the attention of social media, such as the circumcision of little girls, force-feeding [the practice of making women eat a lot of food, editor's note], divorce which makes women increasingly desirable. Do these subjects concern you, as a filmmaker, as a woman?
On the contrary, I think that to have the audacity to deal with these themes shows strength and credibility which gives a lot of importance and interest to the subject. Also, I prefer to have the freedom to deal with all that characterizes a society, whether positive or negative. Therefore, I believe that cinema is a mode of expression that must be guided by common sense.
What film genre are most attracted to most: fiction, documentary?
Currently what interests me the most is documentary filmmaking. Because I like the inspiration that I get from reality and the environment in which I evolve. In addition, it is a space very rich in materials and which helps me to enrich my creative capacities. The universe of the documentary is very vast and open, without the limitations of time or space. This allows me to work beyond the constraints that are imposed when having to comply with a rigid script and a well-defined cast.
How do you feel having received the award for the first oeuvre for your documentary Le coussin de massage?
It is an honor for me to receive this award. Especially since there was very strong competition. It gives me more energy to continue to create.
Do you think that international festivals contribute to the promotion of women's cinema?
Today, we notice that women's cinema is very present in festivals and very appreciated by stakeholders in the industry. The filmmakers benefit from meetings with professionals and can exchange their experiences. It is also a chance to show their work, discuss their ideas and alleviate any perceived difference between them and their colleagues in the field.
As a filmmaker do you believe in the notion of a woman’s cinema?
The important thing is that the woman is behind the camera, that she works in such a manner that she is able to defend her cause and be heard. So a woman’s cinema is there. I can only be optimistic on this point. And to be clear: I would say that a film cannot be released without the presence of the woman, whether in front of or behind the camera.
Le coussin de massage | Leather Board
12’ - Morocco - 2017 - Documentary
Leather Board highlights the experiences of Salka, mother, widow, leather board maker. Which shares a day in her life, touching on many of the private and personal aspects that characterize Moroccan Saharan women.
Source and image: http://africine.org/film/leather-board-le-coussin-de-massage/23984
Watch Leather Board on Vimeo
Sahara Lab: Leather Board (Aida Bouya) from cohenimages on Vimeo.
The graduation film Leather Board was produced by the Sahara Lab: a Moroccan educational and media NGO whose mission is to identify, encourage and train emerging film and media makers to tell their own stories about Morocco’s diverse, desert culture and its people from Ouarzazate to Dakhla, from Guelmim to Smara.