Original Title: Ali Zaoua, prince de la rue
Director: Nabil Ayouch
Language: Arabic, French
27.12.2019: This review was first published on 0105.2018 and is being updated for a more complete review, together with the publishing of the YouTube Version.
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Directed Nabil Ayouch and released in 2000, Ali Zaoua (original title Ali Zaoua, prince de la rue), portrays the life of a group of young boys living in the streets of Casablanca.
World Cup Historic
The Morocco Nation Team joined FIFA in 1956 and made their debut the following year, in a 3-3 draw against Iraq.
The 1970 edition was their first World Cup, and the 2018 edition was their fifth. The best result was in 1986, reaching the Round of 16, losing for West Germany.
Morocco sealed their elimination after two losses and a draw in the group stage, scoring only two goals. They conceded goals after 90 minutes on two occasions, losing four points because of it.
We will probably see a lot more of Morocco in the future World Cups, not because they’re a new football potency, but because of the competition change of format. From 2026 onward, the competition will have 48 participants instead of the current 32.
Ali Zaoua (not to be confused with Jacques Zoua, the Cameroonian striker), is the second full-length movie directed by Nabil Ayouch, who was born in France but made his whole career in Morocco.
In the streets of Casablanca, a grown-ass deaf man called Dib (played by Saïd Taghmaoui) is the leader of a large gang of homeless children, boys, to be exact. Their motto is: Life is a pile of shit.
Ali Zaoua (played by Abdelhak Zhayra) is a boy who dreams of becoming a sailor, he leads another group of boys, that left the gang led by Dib. The four friends are Kwita (played by Mounïm Kbab), Omar (played by Mustapha Hansali), Boubker (played by Hicham Moussoune) and, Ali Zaoua.
One of Dib’s children throws a stone in Ali’s head, killing him. The movie is around the struggle of these three remaining friends in their efforts to give Ali a proper burial.
Saïd Taghmaoui, who plays Dib, is the best-known name in the movie. Very recently, he was in the role of Sameer, in Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman (2017). He is a solid actor and had a likable character in Wonder Woman.
Dib, on the other hand, is not likable at all. He sexually abuses the boys, gives them punishments, and makes them steal for him. There is no way to like such a character or person.
The three boys did great in their roles, with an individual arc and an arc as a group. They are the contradiction of fending for themselves like adults and the fantasy of the mind of a child.
I could not find more information about what came of these three young actors. I would love to know, but the only info I could find in a semi-superficial search was about their roles in Ali Zaoua.
The visuals are not the best, because the movie is portraying the poor and precarious parts of Casablanca, abandoned buildings, and so on. Also, as Whisky (2004), the visuals seemed, to me, dated.
The movie explores many tough topics in society, sexual abuse, prostitution, homelessness, drugs, small crimes, and how police deal with it, the list goes on. All these topics become even tougher when it’s involving kids.
I remember when I watched on YouTube a movie that dealt with some of the same issues that Ali Zaoua. What I saw in the comments was the lack of compassion people have with the most vulnerable children in our society.
There are portrayals of reality like those I mentioned, and others of fantasy, like showing the kids’ imagination in animation, that I enjoyed. But I didn’t like as much, things I found far-fetched, especially regarding Ali Zaoua’s body.
There are few flaws, but they exist. In general, we have here an emotional drama, with great acting from kids, and an excellent picture of the rough reality on the streets. 8 Moons.