Alyam Alyam (Oh the Days!). 1978. Morocco. Written and directed by Ahmed El Maanouni. In Arabic, French; English subtitles. 90 min.
With the inhabitants of Toualàa (Oulad Ziane) in the region of Casablanca. Academy Award–nominated filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako (Timbuktu, Bamako, Waiting for Happiness) introduces Alyam Alyam on November 11. Much honored but long impossible to see, this classic of Arab cinema has been restored under the supervision of its director, Ahmed El Maanouni, who observes, “I did not look for spectacular beauty, but made an effort to let the imagery of the rural world speak through abstraction and silence…. Almost 40 years later, when I watch Alyam Alyam again, I am still comfortable with my aesthetic choices and my intuitions, but I cannot avoid noticing how, from beginning to end—from the opening shots with the blood shed by the camels to the crowd of peasants appearing from behind the hills—it all seemed to presage the current tragedy experienced by the thousands whose broken dreams lie at the bottom of the Mediterranean….” We dedicate this screening of Alyam Alyam to our late colleague Jytte Jensen, who from 2010 to 2012 co-organized MoMA’s revelatory survey of Arab experimental cinema and ardently championed the restoration of this film. Restored in 2015 by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project in collaboration with Ahmed El Maanouni. Restoration carried out at Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory.