Casablanca Beats

2021 [ARABIC]

Crime / Drama / Music / Romance

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 86%
IMDb Rating 5.9 10 384

Plot summary

October 21, 2022 at 06:13 PM


Nabil Ayouch

Top cast

941.25 MB
Arabic 2.0
25 fps
1 hr 42 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by gregorymannpress-74762 7 / 10

"Casablanca Beats" written by Gregory Mann

"Casablanca Beats"

Former rapper Anas (Anas Basbousi) takes a job at a cultural centre in a working-class neighbourhood in Casablanca. Encouraged by their new teacher, his students will try to free themselves from the weight of restrictive traditions in order to live their passions and express themselves through 'hip-hop'. The film wants the whole world to hear their voices and their stories.

The film is build around a 'hip-hop' dance class, because of an encounter. Anas is a guy showed up, 25-26, not older. He introduces himself as a former rapper, a world that's now behind him. But he comes with the desire to pass it on. He offers a program, 'The Positive School of Hip-Hop'; classes to teach young people to express themselves and talk about their lives. This is Anas, who becomes the central character of the film. Anas is pretty much as a John Ford hero. He arrives alone in this suburb, doesn't talk much, we're deliberately told little about him, except that he's dedicated to his work and these kids. It's also a film about work. Teaching is to teach how to do but also how to re-do. Anas is sometimes tough with the kids but the fact that he's demanding shows them that he's thinking big for them. He makes them work, write, re-write, give them confidence in themselves. One day they put on a show and they're incredible. They've talent, they put their daily lives into words so accurately, the times, society, everything. It's about their desires, their frustrations, their doubts, their dreams. You see, how this music is at the heart of the 'Arab Spring'. Today it expresses the political voice of an entire youth. The film wants to give full expression to these voices that take the mike in order to tell us things of great importance. Music allows to get inside the characters, to get closer to them. To understand them better. As in a musical, there's the main narrative, the daily life of the class, their work, their discussions, with a more naturalistic, a more improvised direction, which gives the illusion of a documentary. We're confronted with reality, we look at faces, we listen to words, it's hardcore. And then suddenly, through music and dance, we escape. Like the tribute scene to 'West Side Story' where they dance facing the fundamentalists. We're in a musical, but this is also the state of the world, it's also a very political scene.

The film also shows all the threats against this freedom of expression gradually getting closer to the centre as the film progresses. The centre is a refuge. The minute you're outside, things are a lot more complicated, and bodies perhaps less free, and the film shows that. Also that these young people don't let themselves be pushed around, that they try to regain power in the streets. Especially the young girls. We're involved in the feminist struggles of this country. This is extraordinary, these young female rappers, who talk about their bodies, the male gaze, the pressure from their older brothers who want to enslave them. The challenges they face are very strong, All they need is the opportunity and the means to speak out. Of course, a certain section of the population, very marked by religion and traditions, has every interest in silencing them. It's important to show what they're fighting against. But rather than showing everything that could silence them, It's important to celebrate their voices, to let them resonate loudly, to show that with their bodies and their words, they're resisting. In the end, one might think the battle has not been won. On the contrary, the seeds that Anas has sown will grow into ever stronger shoots. He has instilled in these young people a spirit of freedom that cannot be extinguished. And this is the very essence of his work, to give them the tools and the confidence to continue their paths on their own. For these young people, this is only the beginning, a form of renaissance, in their own words; 'They're going to hear a big bang and we'll be reborn'! Despite the lurking violence it's a film full of hope. Their political strength and their incredible energy permeate the film.

We've massive respect for those who dedicate their lives to passing on their knowledge. The film wants to give voice to young people. When you're in your teens in the 80s, you learned to look at and think about the world. Through arts and culture, ww learn how to talk about ourselves and to like who we're. You trust the words, the gestures, the space and above all the freedom to talk about ourselves and listen to others. The film pays tribute to 'The Ali Zaoua Foundation' and these places and to what they gave to young people in Morocco. 'Hip-Hop' became popular in France in the early 90s. We all listened to it because suddenly we felt that this music was meant for us. Until the late 90s 'hip-hop' in France was very political. These songs talked about the reality of the suburbs, places no one wanted to hear about. It was powerful. By showing precisely that there's nothing more physical than teaching. During the pandemic, we're led to believe that teaching could be done through a screen, but it's not true. To teach is to act. To show that learning, it's to be in motion, in contact. There's no substitute for this contact. They're a sign that the world is changing.

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