MAFROUZA - OH LA NUIT!
"Tea helps me to live. It gives me the opportunity to invite people over to drink it. They come, we talk and spend time together. And that helps me to live. Will your film do that?" For the residents of Mafrouza, a rich emotional life is their most important tool to meet the challenges of life in this Alexandrian shantytown. Built within the remains of a Greco-roman necropolis, extreme poverty makes daily life tough, but despite this, the people of Mafrouza have an incredible vitality and a vast capacity for happiness, united in their struggle to survive and to live together.
We follow the inhabitants' patient attempts to reconstruct themselves and their surroundings. They comment on the filming and express their criticism, fears that the poverty shown here will give a bad impression of Egypt abroad, and also faith in the love between people and countries. No commentary or explanation is provided to impose any judgement, but a dialogue is still created undermining the clichés about life in a shantytown, bringing the difference in living standards in Europe into sharp focus.
"A main point for me in making films is to show the world in its complexity; not to protect us from it, not to cover its disorders with a fake explanatory order; but on the contrary, to offer its richness so the audience may be free to find its own way in it. I found a parallel between this concern of mine and the way people live in Mafrouza. They don't use rigid principles to seal off the chaos of the world around them, they adapt themselves to it, or just tinker with it. They constantly readjust their lifestyles, which requires a great inventiveness. In the same way as they turn a pestle into a makeshift hammer, they invent proverbs, poems or morals according to the shifting situations. The film is also an homage to this permanent inventiveness that accepts the unpredictability of the world and copes with it.” - Emmanuelle Demoris
"When I first saw the rushes of Mafrouza/Heart, I was struck by two things. First, I was blown away by the people of Mafrouza, by their courage, their warmth and their humanity. They are not "Arabs", nor are they "Muslims", nor "victims of globalization". They are men and women who love, work, cope with problems, help each other, write poetry. They are not "characters" but people whom I was glad to meet through the film. What also struck me is the tonality of the film, which appears totally new to me. The outstanding on-screen presence of the people naturally relies on their freedom in front of the camera, which makes them not only the actors but also the creators of these stories the film shows us. But there is more. We dive into Mafrouza without filters, as if the camera could be totally forgotten; though, on the other side and at the same time, the camera is always there as a person acting and involved in the scene. Exposed and provoked, loved or rejected, challenged or seduced, the camera breaks the wall between us and the screen to make us really share the meeting with the people of Mafrouza. And this opening deconstructs the classical illusion of cinema (even documentary) to create a new kind of representation based on exchange and reciprocity." - Jean Grualt (Producer)
English/Original Title: Mafrouza - Oh night!. Camera: Emmanuelle Demoris. Sound: Emmanuelle Demoris. Editing: Claire Atherton. Production: Les Films de la Villa. Producer: Jean Gruault. Length: 141 min. International Sales: Les Films de la Villa Distribution: Les Films de la Villa