North Africa needs an urgent emergence of a brand-new indigenous cinema that is vibrant, beautiful and rooted, connecting Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia with the forefront of Arab cinema. In contrast to the past, when the region merely provided an exotic setting for Western films that overlooked local culture, the pioneering filmmakers of the Maghrib, as this region is known, aspire to reflect, above all, the social realities of their country.
Many current generations of filmmakers believe that audiences outside will find their extremely creative films fascinating due to their universal themes.
In the past, American audiences were mostly confined to films of their production. Maghrib and Arab theaters, in general, could not break through to the mainstream of the country's Hollywood-dominated industry.
Is it any different now? Can North African filmmakers aspire to reach Hollywood? Can we truly hope to see on the big Hollywood screen a fair representation of the Northern African culture? Dream of glimpsing into life new superhero characters depicting our essence.
The knowledge of movies outside of the United States is inadequate, and that is a fact. Bong Joon Ho, the filmmaker of "Parasite," criticized American viewers when winning the Golden Globe for his movie. He stated that Hollywood would be introduced to so many more fantastic films after it transcends the 1-inch tall barrier of subtitles.
For instance, the last few years witnessed the rise in the consumption of Korean content; South Korea has conquered the world in a blink of an eye, and Americans appear to be consuming more foreign content today than ever before, but recognition in the US has been slower to come.
The issue, in part, is one of the perceptions. Many Hollywood executives thought, and continue to think, that no one is interested in seeing films focused on our part of the world. In another part, we lack talents and visionaries in writing, producing, directing, acting, and distributing authentic and universal stories.
African content, on the other hand, has known a huge jump in production and distribution around the world. Nollywood, the commercial film industry of Nigeria, just recently started to take off in the 1990s, but it is currently seen as being nearly as big as Hollywood. There has been an acknowledgment that something has fundamentally shifted in both film production and academic assessments of African screen culture.
The artistic forms that these creative forces imagine have changed, and the institutional, financial, and technological infrastructures that govern the organization of cinema production are undergoing a profound revolution. The results are in continuous display on the streaming platforms.
The problem with the North African entertainment industry lies within the technological and financial distribution infrastructures that, unfortunately, don't support recent shifts in popular filmmaking. We still operate by the old book.
These frameworks categorize, define and limit what North African cinema is in terms of aesthetics, society, and politics. Cultural creation has increased the focus on distribution, but we are lacking foundations. It seems like producers in this part of the world have never looked beyond the film text itself and never once considered how that text occurs within a larger technological, economic, and political picture susceptible to change and bound to the revolution road.
It's the lack of vision and understanding that prevents a movie about a North-African-centered society from coming to life or succeeding on an international scale; the same lack of imagination is present in movies from our part of the continent as well, whereas this is due to the ideas we are fed up since childhood, we don't dream of our own superheroes on the screen, we dream of America's.
In the entire history of the Academy Awards, only three movies from African countries have ever won the best international feature film award. All three movies were directed by white men. It's kind of a shame that our whole mainland is just overlooked.
Finding North African movies during the 1980s and 1990s was very difficult. The number of films produced in North African nations' film industry was significantly lower than in Hollywood at the time, and the technology wasn't as advanced.
Today, we need a new critical language to analyze the foundations on which the entertainment industry in our homelands is based as we have the technology and social media on our side if we hope to take it to Hollywood's mainstream since distribution has been evolving in our favor.
We need more ambition of filmmakers to create compelling original stories with high-quality visuals and travel beyond any visual representation of neo-liberalism in order to capture our truest cinematic substance. A field is created where our traditions converge, and intellectual heritage is highlighted, making a straight path toward the humanities and the social realities of our North African societies.
The goal of expanding North African cultural creation is sincere, and the cinematic revolution is already undergoing in some unconventional minds.