The Moroccan film Androman de Sange et de Charbon (Androman of Blood and Carbon), which tackles injustice against women and the issue of gender change, is to premier in Moroccan movie theatres in March after winning several awards at the Festival National du Film (National Film Festival) in Tangiers.
The film tells the story of a family that lives in a remote village in the Atlas Mountains. The father, called Ouchen, works in coal manufacturing, a profession that has been passed down from generation to another, and hoped he would have a son to inherit the family business and keep the land, which has to go to the nearest male relative, said director of the film Az Larabe Alaoui.
“After the death of his wife, the father then decides to turn his daughter into a boy who he calls Androman” he told Al Arabiya.
The residents of the village, Alaoui, are fooled into believing that the father has a boy until the child falls into the river and her true gender is revealed to a shepherd who lives there. A love story ensues between Androman and the shepherd in what villagers think is a homosexual relationship.
“To avenge his honor after his neighbors know that his alleged son is gay, the father kills the shepherd.”
According to actress Jalila Tlemsi, who played the role of Androman, the film focuses on the loss of identity and the way it is related to social ailments.
“The suppression Androman goes through is a reflection of the society to which the father belongs and which makes him insist on having a son even when this is not possible,” she told Al Arabiya.
Tlemsi, who got Best Actress at the National Film Festival in Tangiers, said “Androman of Blood and Carbon” was a real challenge that will play a major role in shaping her career and in her popularity.
“Playing the role of a boy was very difficult. I had to be careful with the voice, the movements, and the looks.”
The character of Androman, she added, is a very complicated one that required a lot of analysis before starting the shooting.
“Every time I read the script, I discovered another dimension in the characters and I found many ways of approaching it.”
Makeup was also another challenge, she added. She and the director spent a lot of time with the makeup artist in order to arrive at the Androman they envisioned.
“I chose not to wear a wig and to shave my hair not because I wanted sensational media coverage, but because this made me relate more to the character and start living her dilemma.”
In addition to the Best Actress award Tlemsi received, “Androman of Blood and Carbon” got another three awards at the National Film Festival: Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Score, and the Critics’ Award.
Owing to its focus on the oppression of women, director Alaoui was planning for the first show to be on International Women’s Day on March 8. However, several of the Moroccan officials expected to attend the premier had prior engagements that day. The date of the premier remains to be determined.
Despite considering the movie one that tackles women’s rights, Alaoui argued that it is also about the human condition in general and the way its essence can be deformed.
“The film is about violating the sanctity of the human body and creating freaks of nature out of it.”
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)