Film Review: Burnout – at the Africa in Motion Film Festival

Dir. Nour-Eddine Lakhmari

Nour-Eddine Lakhmari described a scene for the inspiration of his film, Burnout, which reminded me of something Chinua Achebe wrote. Lakhmari described how one of his professors in the Norwegian university he studied at introduced a film screening by saying he would show them the best movie ever made. He proceeded to inform them that they were about to watch Casablanca. Lakhmari remembered how his heart quickened with excitement at the prospect of seeing his home depicted on camera, and his extreme disappointment that the Casablanca he was shown had nothing to do with the Casablanca he knew. He asked himself: where am I in this movie – apart from the person serving tea? Since then he has been making movies that are tell the stories of the real people and the society of Casablanca. Yet, as Lakhmari himself points out, these people are just people like you find them all over the world, so their stories are universal.

Clearly, Lakhmari’s intentions are admirable as he seeks to speak to Moroccans and spark debate within his society, whilst still maintaining global applicability. What is impressive is that he has truly managed to reach his aspirations. The beautiful Darija (Moroccan Arabic dialect) may have had to be translated for me in the subtitles, but the emotions and hardships expressed by them and the accompanying images of the movie struck home. By entertwining four story strands, Lakhmari was able to cover a range of themes from poverty and loneliness in wealth to rape and abortion. Whilst such dark topics can sometimes verge on the overpoweringly depressing, Lakhmari managed to intersperse moments of pure happiness and simplicity that contrasted beautifully. Together, the joy and sorrow moved me deeply.

The stories were difficult to watch and relentlessly thought provoking. Yet they were told with such sensitivity and tenderness that I could not and did not want to look away as I was drawn into a world both foreign and familiar in its basic humanity.

[Kirsty Campbell]

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