Sophia Alaoui: Moroccan Short Film Nominated for Oscars 2021

Sophia Alaoui. Photo:

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The Oscars Academy has just selected Moroccan director Sophia Alaoui’s short film “Qu’importe si Les betes meurent” (So what if the goats die) has to compete in the best short film category.

Officially screened in 2019 in both France and Morocco in Amazigh (Berber) language and produced by Jiango films, the Moroccan short film is a 23 minute-long science-fiction. It tells the story of Abdallah, a young shepherd who lives with his father and their sheep and goat herd in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains. 

One day the father and son run out of food to feed their animals due to Snow. The harsh weather and its accompanying woes force the young Abdellah to go on a long and difficult two-day-long trip on the back of his mule to the nearest village, in order to get food and save his cattle.

Upon returning  back from his trip, Abdellah was not ready to find his village almost completely deserted with only one person left: The local madman whom the young shepherd could not rely on to tell him what happened in the two days he was absent.

After learning from the national TV report and international news about the supernatural event that decimated his village, Abdellah went into deep thoughts to make sense of the coming of aliens. 

As Abdellah navigates clashing interpretations — the village madman believes aliens brought enlightenment and freedom, whereas the imam from the TV says their arrival the work of the devil — the Moroccan short film offers captivating, thought-provoking foray questioning of the beliefs, traditions, and ideas that we often take for granted.

French-Moroccan director Sophia Alaoui spent her childhood between Morocco, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. She has directed documentary and fiction short films that have been broadcast on France 3, TV5, OCS. 

A number of Alaoui’s works have been selected for international prizes at several film festivals, acknowledging the quality of the young, Casablanca-born director’s oeuvre.

Read also: Moroccan Filmmaker Aziz Tazi on His Rise to Hollywood Fame

Her latest documentary, “Les Vagues ou rien” received wide critical acclaim in both Morocco and France.  Sophia Alaoui is also the founder of the Moroccan production company Jiango Films and is currently writing her first feature and TV series to be produced by Barney Production.

Alaoui’s Oscar-nominated short film has received many positive reviews, winning several prizes. The film notably won the much-coveted Jury Prize at the Sundance Festival in 2020. It also won France’s national film competition at the Champs-Elisees Film Festival

Most recently, the Moroccan short film was screened at the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival and was nominated in the category of best short film for the 2021 Cesar 2021.