A Renowned Filmmaker from Morocco
by Sherif Awad
Cinema in Morocco has a long history, dating back to 1897 when Louis Lumière shot one of the first films ever made, titled “The Moroccan Goatherd”. Since then, Morocco has become a popular destination for international film productions, particularly in the Ouarzazate area. Many Moroccans have also been involved in these productions, working as actors, location managers, and assistant directors alongside film crews from around the world.
Ahmed Boulane, a writer-director, is one of the prominent Moroccans in the film industry. He is nicknamed “L’enfant terrible du cinéma marrocain” (The unruly child of Moroccan cinema) due to his rebellious character. Over time, Boulane has established himself as one of the most renowned filmmakers in the Arab and international film scene. His filmmaking journey has been supported by his partner, Dana Schondelmeyer, an American-born costume designer based in Morocco.
Early Passion for Cinema
Boulane developed a love for cinema from a young age. He would create a handmade camera to film his mother at home and often watched classic American films with his father, such as “Moby Dick”. Interestingly, there was an American military base near his home city of Salé, where many Moroccan officials and intellectuals resided. This proximity exposed Boulane to a variety of American WWII films playing in local cinemas during the 1960s.
“I was a very rebellious pupil. After completing my primary school years, my father sent me to learn a handicraft,” recalled Boulane. “Five years later, I began writing and illustrating my own stories in the form of comic books. By the age of twelve, while studying music at the Conservatoire of Rabat, I became the youngest actor in Moroccan television serials.”
A Shift in Career
Boulane could have pursued a successful acting career, but he felt the need for a change. “Once I got my first passport, I decided to fly to Rome in 1979. As I grew older, cute boy roles were no longer offered to me. However, I still needed to work to make a living,” explained Boulane. He ventured into casting direction and location management for international films, switching careers and gaining valuable experience in the process.