between tradition and permaculture, the 21st century at the gates of the desert


“How do you live in an isolated town? » The question, banal in general, could be applied to any country. For his return, Ismaël Khelifa, who alternatively presents the magazine “Echappées belles”, presents him to Moroccans and Moroccans. But not to the inhabitants of the city. Only those from ten towns particularly committed to their development: a welcome originality.

Beginning with Ait Ben Haddou, a ksar (fortified town) in southern Morocco popular with filmmakers (Ali baba and the 40 thieveswith Fernando, Lawrence of Arabia, with Peter O’Toole). Loubna Mouna, a female pilot who created a solidarity tea room with 44 other women, serves as a guide: “Equality between men and women is something natural” in Morocco, she says.

Also read: Western Sahara: between Morocco and Algeria, the diplomatic war is being waged

Modesty, decorum? Ismaël Khelifa does not ask her any more about the situation of women in Morocco. Just as a little later, in the Tahanaout souk, when he remembers his childhood spent in Algeria with his father, he does not address the issue of Western Sahara, which is fueling a diplomatic war between Morocco and Algeria.

Berber gastronomy

Throughout the dialogues, however, the role of the woman seems to be essential. This is the case with Zoh Eddiraa, the first woman to climb Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in Morocco (4,167 meters), in 1977, today a nurse and innkeeper. Always smiling, the presenter seems to want to impress her benevolence, both with the locals and with the spectators. To do this, she puts herself on stage: in the barbershop, in Tamegroute, at the gates of the desert, or during a pottery session. With alleged clumsiness. The smile becomes contagious when you see an argan tree south of Agadir, the “magic tree” that makes goats climb the branches: argan gives work to 3 million people in Morocco.

And what could be friendlier than a meal? Gastronomy takes center stage here: grilled fish and oysters at Oualidia, a famous surf spot; traditional Berber breakfast in Imlil; the cooking of saffron in Taliouine, the capital of condiments; Cherry pie at Saïd, farmer. Each time, the welcome is warm and trusting. Surrounded by his young wife, Saïd details the education of his children: “There are two schools in the village, a Koranic school and a normal school. The children go to the Koran very early, then they come home around 7, have breakfast and go to school as normal. »

The same generosity in Brachoua, where the village is coming back to life thanks to a gardener who is a permaculture trainer. In Aït Mohamed, Ismaël Khelifa meets a young Berber at the cattle market. The latter will invite you to the heights with his nomadic parents, under the tent. Before one last look at the desert and its landscapes “really impressive”. A really beautiful escape…

Close call. Morocco, from town to townby Damien Pourageaux and Yohann Bensoussan (Fri. 2022, 90 min.).

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