WWW- What a Wonderful World

By Faouzi Bensaïdi

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The film opens with 60s, James-Bond style credits. The enigmatic contract killer played by the director is more like Goldfinger than some character out of a Moroccan film. The film alternates a multitude of key film references from global cinema and modernistic imagery. But contrary to music videos or advertising, the latter never reveals mercantile intentions. It is readily inscribed in a system of references whose codes are recognizable to those who live in the cities of Morocco or elsewhere. In this respect, WWW- What a Wonderful World is a topical manifesto that usefully challenges those who have specific expectations as regards to the films of the South. Usefully as it indeed proposes a rupture with an identity-based vision of cinema that imprisons African films in what we need them to be.
This rupture is necessary to conceptualize the world and the film’s title is all the more programmatic: in the era of internet and extravagent consumerism, does the artificial paradise offered to us answer our human expectations? In other words, how to express love in a land of cell phones and computers? This contract killer is in love and expresses it by unveiling treasures of poetry, despite his aloof personality. Faouzi Bensaïdi a.k.a Kamel the Killer, a sort of Buster Keaton of big buildings, a sad clown who does not hesitate to lapse into the burlesque by dressing up as a woman to escape the police, goes crazy in both senses of the word to make his love known to Kenza (the beautiful Nzeha Rahil, also his wife in real life), who initially only represents a fascinating voice on the cellphone and turns out to be a policewoman at the city-centre roundabout. She leads the cars’ choreography while playing the card of softness; Kamel’s task will not be easy, not to mention that Hicham the hacker sows confusion in his contracts.
Like in rap, sex and death intermingle under cold lights. The night is lit with neon signs whose messages have been subverted, reflecting this country that appropriates the world with its own means. Bensaïdi subverts cinema, recycles Almodovar, Jarmush (the traveling shots in Down by Law), Murnau (Nosferatu), Tati (Playtime), Fellini (Amarcord) or Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde), and of course Orson Welles, his model, but also music hall and musicals, cartoons, thrillers, Indian cinema, silent cinema, the burlesque and others I’ve probably forgotten. In short, he amuses himself. Computer and cellphone screens interchange with the film screen and Hicham’s presentation suggests visiting his website! Pure fantasy? Maybe not! If it provokes perspectives and integrates the new areas of representation, it is to develop a new bible of aesthetics where the strange and odd hang over the reassuring old norms. For it really is subversion we are dealing with: rethinking African modernity is becoming urgent if we are to escape pure mimetism yet without becoming isolated from the world, by appropriating its references to serve the essential representation of the tragic, reality constantly needing to be recalled. Marvelling before Amarcord‘s ship is no longer acceptable when it’s candidates for illegal immigration it nearly mows down! For Hicham dreamt of taking the plunge, of leaving the handicap of the South to try his luck where wild dreams come true.
This rooting is what prevents the film from being a hotchpotch: it becomes a metaphor of modern reality. That is how its imagery finds its meaning, at the junction between the subconscious and desire, as well as an illusionless vision of the urban world. Bensaïdi’s Casablanca is, as Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhang’s The World was, a miniature park of our constantly evolving world, where new plots are played out before the surveillance video cameras. The towers of Casa’s Twin Center are attacked by paper planes: humor and parody are not far, the goal being to explore the ambivalences of our early century, rather than taking things too seriously.
Bensaïdi plays with repetitions, signs and effects on the big screen, liberally choreographing the flow of the city and of the heart. This formalist fireworks is beautiful but it goes beyond that: with its art of subversion and its provocative aesthetic choices, it asserts itself as a remarkable example of cinema of the South in the great globalization debate.

Translated by Céline Dewaele///Article N° : 6671

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