Cannes Film Festival: Nabil Ayouch rehabilitates the sheikhates in Everybody Loves Touda

HIBAPRESS-RABAT-Cannes Film Festival

Nabil Ayouch carries Moroccan cinema loud and clear by revolving around the taboos of his country. After jihadism in Les Chevaux de Dieu (Un Certain Regard, 2012) and prostitution in Much Loved (2015), he lifts the veil on women as fascinating as they are criticized, the sheikhates, in Everybody Loves Touda, presented at Cannes Première.

Touda dances, Touda sings, Touda drinks. In her small village, she performs in bars and lives frugally with her deaf son. But Touda dreams bigger. She wants to leave for Casablanca to become a sheikha, a great traditional artist, and to offer her son the opportunity to study.

Nabil Ayouch wants to restore their letters of nobility to the sheikhates, these figures of song once admired in Morocco, considered as the soul of the population, but today criticized. The shift occurred when, in the 1970s, they had to migrate to the cities, adapt their repertoire accordingly and perform in cabarets. Alcohol, the gaze of men, subversive songs… these women inspire both desire and repulsion.

Through Touda’s journey, Nabil Ayouch shows the power of these women as well as their vulnerability. Violence and humiliation do not taint his character’s quest. Everywhere, all the time, the men around are threatening, even those in his family. The only exception: this old violinist he met in Casablanca who helped him in his artistic quest.

For the writing, Nabil Ayouch collaborated with his wife, Maryam Touzani, member of the Feature Film Jury last year and director of the delicate Bleu du caftan (Un Certain Regard, 2022) and Adam (un Certain Regard, 2019) . In this film, she directed Nisrin Erradi, now the interpreter of Touda, after a long preparation in immersion with sheikhates.

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