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Al Jazeera World
Casting Inshallah
An insight into life in a Moroccan town where many locals make a living as film extras for major Hollywood productions.
Last Modified: 28 Dec 2011 16:30

Filmmaker: Sana El Younoussi

The town of Warzazat and its surrounding area in southern-central Morocco has become a noted filmmaking location, with Morocco's biggest studios inviting many international film companies to shoot their films.

Hollywood classics such as Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven and Babel have all been shot in the town and its surrounding desert.

For the locals of Warzazat this has meant many have made a living out of being cast as film extras, and sometimes as supporting characters. Being cast as an extra or character is a dream for many of the town's men, women and children.

"I grew up in Warzazat in Kasba. My whole family works in the film industry. I was two-and-a-half years old when I started acting. The movie was called Ibrahim, the Prophet. My mother had told me that they were looking for a little kid to ride a donkey. So I sat on this donkey and refused to come down. I cried every time they tried to get me down. Finally the director gave up and we filmed the scene."

Elham Ojrie, 20, Warzazat resident

There are people who relocated to Warzazat decades earlier from outlying towns and villages in the hope of earning good money or to chase their dreams of a career in the local or international film industry.

For the hopeful extras in Warzazat, working in big-budget films is the first step in their dream to a better life, to be famous outside Morocco, to be a recognised international talent or celebrity, to be a professional. For some others, it is simply a way out of poverty.

"Cinema is the only craft I am good at. I have worked in cinema since I was a child. Growing up, I tried to study and work at the same time. But when I reached high school, I didn't want to study anymore. My only dream was to be in cinema. But my father asked me to finish school. He promised that he would help me join the cinema institution if I finished high school. But he passed away and I lost my desire to finish school. I wanted to work to help my family. I worked as a movie extra in many films, especially documentaries."

One Warzazat resident

Casting Inshallah takes a colourful look at the local community of Warzazat who await work as film extras - and along the way highlights the huge gap between the financial power of international movie production and the economic situation of the local population.

 
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