Documentary director visits MSU, leads French club discussion
Nadir Bouhmouch, director, producer and writer of the documentary ““My Makhzen and Me” paid a visit to MSU on Monday.
Bouhmouch led the French Club in a roundtable discussion of his film about the uprising in Morocco and how it was portrayed in Western and Moroccan media. Bouhmouch said Western media depicted a strong Moroccan influence in the Middle East, which he found to be inaccurate.
“A lot of Western media portrayed Morocco as being a role model for the Middle East, but … it doesn’t really match up with what was happening on the ground,” he said.
Bouhmouch said he began his film career in 2011.
“I flew into Morocco to shoot a film that had nothing to do with the government — just a short film — and they confiscated my camera at the airport,” Bouhmouch said. “After that, my perceptions of my own country was that it was no longer the democracy I saw on television,” Bouhmouch said.
Linnea Jimison, the president of the MSU French Club, said she was thrilled to have a visit from Bouhmouch.
“One of the goals of the French Club is to highlight Francophone cultures from around the world,” Jimison said. “There is a strong French presence in Morocco, so we’re really thrilled to have a representative here.”
When Bouhmouch perceived deeper problems arising in Morocco, he knew someone had to do something.
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“When I saw the movement — the uprising — start to happen in Morocco, I said, ‘Someone has to record this,’ because it isn’t being shown anywhere else,” Bouhmouch said. “I knew the regime buried the memory of this really big historical moment (and) it wouldn’t show up in Moroccan textbooks in the future, so I wanted to make sure that the memory of the Feb. 20 movement was preserved for future generations.”
Jimison said although they have done other events that highlight Francophone culture, having someone actually come out and speak about it drove the message home.
“As much as we try to do events where we present another culture, it’s so much more interesting to have someone from that culture talk about it themselves instead of us trying to reproduce it,” Jimison said.
Because of Bouhmouch’s work in cyberactivism, Safoi Babana-Hampton, associate professor of the Department of Romance and Classical Studies and adviser to the MSU French Club, said she was excited students got a chance to meet Bouhmouch.
“I knew him from my research,” Babana-Hampton said. “I’m very excited that our students and members of the MSU academic community have the opportunity to get a glimpse of this monumental event — the Arab Spring – (and) to put a face to it. I’m excited we were able to bring this part of the Arab Spring here to campus.”
Babana-Hampton said she respects Bouhmouch as well as his work.
“(I) got to know about him because he was someone who exceeded in making his work accessible for his creative views of social media,” Babana-Hampton said. “He (used) Facebook, Twitter (and) Vimeo, (which) allowed him to really connect with a broad base of all kinds of Moroccans young and older who are interested in social change.”
Bouhmouch said he hopes his work will inspire viewers to protect their own rights and freedoms.
“Just because more people were dying in Syria and Libya doesn’t mean we don’t have as much of a claim on our rights to freedom of speech and everything in the world that everyone should be entitled to,” Bouhmouch said.