Our journey to dignity.
Interview with Writer/Director Hind Bensari
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I was looking for a meaningful way to tell a story about inequalities, and endemic injustice. It is very trendy and commonplace to hear mottos like: all you have to do is find your calling, believe, and you will succeed in life. Or give it your all, and you will succeed.
Liberal thinking confines all our successes and failures to one thing only: personal will. I always found this type of thinking dangerous because it ignores environment, privilege, and also because it puts enormous pressure on the individual. Growing up in Morocco, I was acutely aware that being born into a certain class had far more impact on one's destiny than personal will. So when I found my main characters, Azzedine and Youssef (the main characters of my film) who had more determination to succeed in life than anybody I had ever met and who were precisely starting from the bottom of the social ladder, I knew I had something precious in my hands. I was also immediately moved by the solidarity that united them, I hadn't seen a friendship like this one, ever, and couldn't resist making a film about it.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
You should watch the film to be inspired by the near impossible quest that the main characters of the film embark on. Azzedine and Youssef set themselves to reach the Rio Paralympic Games without access to infrastructure, equipment, or a coach. They train in shot put in wastelands using what they can. Yet their solidarity and determination as well as the brotherly love that unites them took them where no one could imagine. But achieving something impossible is not the end of this film. This film is first and foremost a journey to explore the possibilities and limits of personal will, and an invitation to witness a deeply moving relationship between two friends labeled as outcasts.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
We set ourselves to follow two disabled friends on a mission to make it to the Rio Paralympic Games to gain dignity and recognition at home, but we never actually knew whether they would actually make it. Azzedine had already won a Paralympic Gold medal, so we had varying levels of certainty he would manage to qualify again, but his moral was down and the rules of shot put had changed so his previous world record or title didn't count anymore. As for Youssef, who was heavily disabled, illiterate and who never had any formal training in shot put, his chances of qualifying were even slimmer. But the backbone of our film was never whether or not they would qualify. We always used that as an excuse to tell a story about our need to belong, and how inequalities work and set people who are different on a much more difficult path than for the rest of us.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
We were honoured to win the grand prize at Hot Docs, which came as a complete surprise to us and meant a tremendous deal in terms of visibility for the film. People who have watched the film were either shocked by the destiny of our main characters in our country Morocco or deeply moved by the brotherly love that unites my main characters.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I am hoping that it will make many many more people come out to see the film.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
We are hoping that the film will actively contribute in making a real difference for people living with disabilities in Morocco and all over the world. In Morocco, we are campaigning for two concrete solutions: we want to make sure that athletes with disability are granted access to public stadiums and that disabled champions receive the same benefits as their non-disabled colleagues.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I am working on a French web series about women recovering from physical and sexual abuse by learning karate.
Interview: January 2019
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela