16.02 – 01.03
In 2023, KIOSK streams in partnership with Le Fresnoy a series of films on its website. Tashattot Collective invited Yara Al Chehayed to select three films from the catalog of Le Fresnoy in response to the exhibition Tashattot. Le park by Randa Maroufi is the second film selected by Yara Al Chehayed.
Four questions to Randa Maroufi
Yara Al Chehayed: Can you tell us about your experience working directly with young Moroccan people—what the challenges were, the obstacles, and the moments you most recall from your work on this film?
Randa Maroufi: Both the young people and I spoke Casawi, the dialect spoken on the streets, but for them I was also a cinema student coming from abroad. At first they questioned my intentions, which seemed to me totally normal and justified. Then, through frequent meetings, exchanges, and encounters, we built trust through which the project started evolving organically and collectively.
The challenges were more related to the nature of the space itself, the Yasmina Park, where young people hang out and the police are very present. This created an ambiguity. I found myself navigating these power dynamics, and the ambiguity became the core of the project. I was asking myself questions about the ambivalence of the images found on the internet and the relations of power they generated. But the trust that was gradually established made the tensions and ambiguities manageable, and many of the young people occupying the park joined the project.
YAC: Why did you choose a youth-driven subject? And what were the conditions around this film: was it easy to work with non-professional actors, and to film in the park?
RM: I like to collaborate with non-professional actors. I often quote Abbas Kiarostami regarding this aspect of my work, when he says that “The essential thing to understand, about non-professional actors, is that in reality they too are directors and scriptwriters [...]. This kind of cinema is, for me, a cinema of directors/ actors, that is, a combination of the work of both.” I want to work with the people who occupy a certain space that I am exploring at different levels, because they know the veracity of the space. They are already the actors.
YAC: I want to recall a quote from Jean Luc Godard: ne pas faire des films politiques, faire politiquement des films. Your film is very politically charged—in terms of youth conditions nowadays, the state, censorship, policing. Do you see yourself as making political films, or as making films politically?
RM: My films are not political per se, but evoke social and societal issues, where it is a question of struggles and work, of pointing out what is not working. So politics are necessarily involved. My intention is to evoke and to highlight our problems as a society. I am not a politician, however. My films bring nothing or very little apart from a place for a debate on these questions. But I do not pretend to make political films.
YAC: Social media is about immediacy, yet in your film we experience a sense of slowness—both with your camera and with the mannequin challenge performed by the young people. Also the park seems frozen in time. What is your take on these contradictions?
RM: My use of freeze frame for the construction of the film does not aim to reproduce the mannequin challenge trend. The objective of the film is to question the repercussions of multiple readings of the same images that we find on social media, so I use freeze frames as a way to navigate these different readings. It gives me access to a space where time stops, where I can explore and invest in the images themselves, to show the different points of view as those that we can have through looking at an image. So it is not a contradiction but rather an echo of my original intention for this project.
About Randa Maroufi
Randa Maroufi is a graduate of the National Institute of Fine Arts, Tetouan, Morocco (2010) and the School of Fine Arts, Angers, France (2013). She also earned a diploma from Le Fresnoy – Studio National des Arts Contemporains, Tourcoing, France (2015). Randa Maroufi has been Artist Member of Academy of France in Madrid at Casa de Velázquez in 2017 – 2018.
Belonging to the generation that grew up in an era dominated by image, she collects them with as much eagerness as suspicion, and ceaselessly questions their veracity. She prefers to put her ambiguous fictions in the service of reality, and the field of her experimentation encompasses the occupation of public space and gender issues, of which she highlights the founding mechanisms.
About Yara Al Chehayed
Yara Al Chehayed, is a PhD scholar from the Levant, at UCLouvain: Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium. Her project tackles Lebanese cinema of war and the absent perpetuator, and through this absence the emergence of the specter of war. She is also a researcher in social sciences with special interest in identities, belonging and migration and their manifestation in cultural production, mainly cinema.