Nabil Ayouch, a leading Moroccan filmmaker whose latest movie as a producer “The Blue Caftan” became the first Moroccan film to ever make it to the Oscars shortlist, is wrapping up his next directorial effort, “Everybody Loves Touda.”
Now in post-production, “Everybody Loves Touda” follows the journey of a strong-willed woman, along the lines of some of Ayouch’s best known films, such as “Much Loved” and “Razzia,” which played at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight and Toronto, respectively. The movie will mark Ayouch’s directorial follow up to “Casablanca Beats,” which competed at the Cannes Film Festival in 2021 and marked the first Moroccan feature to vie for a Palme d’Or.
“Everybody Loves Touda” tells the story a young poetess and singer known as a Shaeirat, who raises her deaf-mute son in a small Moroccan village. Hoping to give her son a better future and more opportunities in life, she moves with him to Casablanca where she faces setbacks.
“Everybody Loves Touda” was co-written by Ayouch and his wife Maryam Touzani, an actor-turned filmmaker who made her directorial debut with “Adam” and teamed with Ayouch to write her sophomore outing, “The Blue Caftan.” MK2 Films is handling international sales on the movie, while Paris-based distribution company Ad Vitam will distribute it in France.
Touda will be played by Nisrin Erradi, who broke through with her supporting role in Touzani’s feature debut “Adam,” which represented Morocco at the Oscars in 2020.
“‘Everybody Loves Touda” is about the battle of this woman who is passionate about her art and lives with her disabled son, and doesn’t want to give up on her dreams to rise above her condition and offer her son every opportunity,” said Ayouch, who is producing the film via his company Ali n’Productions, along with Les Films du Nouveau Monde, Velvet Films, Snowglobe, Viking Films and Staer.
“It’s a film about singing, dancing and these fierce female poets known as Shaeirat, who emerged in the 19th century from the mountains of Morocco and started coming into big cities in the 1960s and 1970s,” said Ayouch. “Shaeirat poetesses were the first women who dared to sing in public about love, their bodies and pleasures at a time where only men were allowed to sing — these were songs of resistance and emancipation that are still so universal,” said Ayouch, who added that these traditional female singers stirred complex feelings in Morocco, “revered by some and despised by others who view them as prostitutes because they’re free and independent.”
Ayouch said these women who challenge the norms within a conservative society inspired him and are present in nearly all his films since “Ali Zaoua.”
Along with directing movies, Ayouch also produces movies, including Touzani’s “The Blue Caftan” which which won the Fipresci prize at Cannes in 2022 and has become the biggest Moroccan movie hit in recent history.