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1 December 2017: Transes


Ahmed El Maânouni
1981 | 89 min | Colour | DCP

In the Seventies, thanks to five “street” musicians who were determined to break away from the all-pervading “Eastern languors”, Morocco experienced a musical explosion which became the expression of young people’s desires, frustrations, and rebellion. In Transes, Ahmed El Maanouni retraces the geographical and cultural itinerary of this group, Nass El Ghiwane, which in 1974 lost one of its outstanding members, Boujemaa, who died at the age of 28. “Nass El Ghiwane’s music is an awakening for the spirit, and has moved me and inspired me a lot”, commented Martin Scorsese who had met the band than two years before in Marrakech. “The group’s "Trances" are our equivalent of "soul music", our irrationality” says Ahmed El Maânouni. “Following the example of the Nass El Ghiwane themselves, I went back to the roots. They draw their music from the last thousand years of Moroccan and African history. The film sets out to reveal and emphasize this heritage. I chose the music of the Saharan brotherhood, the Gnaouas, and the verses of the famous poet El Mejdoub, to underline the trances”. By means of their songs, the film tackles traditional social themes (tea or exchange, fire or suffering, water or hardness of hearts) but also important contemporary subjects (time, history, laughter, hope). The trance, a ritual and sacred form of expression for the Gnaouas of Essaouira, becomes a non-religious and modern frenzy, as we see in the public concerts filmed in Carthage, Agadir, and Paris.

Restored by Cineteca di Bologna in 2007 for the Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project:

Part of our Il Cinema Ritrovato programme. With thanks to Ehsan Khoshbakht, Guy Borlée (Il Cinema Ritrovato), Carmen Accaputo (Cineteca di Bologna) and L'Immagine Ritrovata for making this programme possible.