Awards at the 18th. National Film Festival in Tangier:
Best Film of The Year • Best Female Role: Fatima-Ezzahra Bennaceur • Best Male Supporting Role: Ayoub Khalfaoui • Critics Choice for Best Film of The Year (Fiction Feature Film)

Awards at the 6th. Oujda Film Festival of the Maghreb:
Best Film • Best Director: Hakim Belabbes • Best Female Role: Fatima-Ezzahra Bennaceur

Synopsis

A both empathic and poetic drama set in the Moroccan countryside. Family, poverty, work and pride are the most important motivations of M’Barek, a poor farmer who fights to pay off his debts so that he can keep his land.
Morocco is suffering an extreme drought, and a simple farming family tries to make ends meet. M’barek lives with his old father, his wife Aida and their son Ayoub on the same piece of land where his forefathers have worked for generations. He hopes to continue the tradition with the child that Aida is bearing; while she is very upset that he sees no future with their son Ayoub, an adolescent with Down’s syndrome. The parched land can hardly yield any crops so M’barek starts digging a well, convinced that he will strike a water reservoir.

His fruitless endeavours gradually become a metaphor for his attempts to get money to pay off his debt to the bank. If he doesn’t manage, the family is in danger of losing everything. The insecure, tense situation makes M’barek, Aida and Ayoub sorrowful, each in their own way, and they all express that in poetic voice-overs at various points in the film.

Directors’ Note of Intentions

A few years ago, I met an old small farmer in my hometown, which has always been considered as part of what is referred to as “The Useless Morocco”. The man told me how he had lost his small plot of land because he could not pay the loan he owed to a “Crédit Agricole” bank. His family had been dispossessed, and he found himself homeless, hospitalized, and possessing nothing more than the “Djellaba” (gown) he was wearing at the time.

I knew I had to tell the story of this man, or what might have been like to walk in his shoes. He was surely one of the many peasants who are caught between the pressure of debts owed to financial institutions, and the hope for “divine” rainfall. But when drought strikes, disaster usually follows.

The film does not seek to resolve conflicts in the traditional sense of any narrative structure. It rather raises questions about the difficult decisions that haunt ordinary human beings in their daily lives.

As for the filmic/visual approach to this story, I have always been inspired by the Italian neo-realism wave, and the films of Satyajit Ray, such as “The Apu Trilogy”, that tell, in all simplicity and depth, the fate of the weak and humiliated in this world; those trying to cope with destinies they have so little control over.

Therefore, the tale that has haunted me for some years now, and that is expressed in this film, is a simple story of struggle in the face of what life deals us. It is a story of ordinary people in search of a dignified life, based on hard work and integrity.

Water is the essence of life, and this element is an essential part of the narrative in "Sweat Rain ". Water is used as a literal and metaphorical element of what makes life possible in many ways. Therefore the presence or absence of water is a paramount visual platform in this story.

The visual tools I have in my possession will – hopefully – allow me to try to make the invisible, visual. Nature that surrounds the characters in this film, its movements, sounds and colors are at the center of this meditative woven attempt.

The goal for me is to express more than plot points, facts or any “intrigues” the story might contain. I'm rather obsessed with the inner worlds of the characters, their anxieties, their little moments of joy, and especially their dreams and nightmares.

Treatment

On an ancestral piece of land in central Morocco, M’barek, a small farmer lives with his pregnant wife, Aida, his old sick father and his son, Ayoub, an adolescent with Down Syndrome. A drought is in full swing, and to deal with it, M’barek spends his time trying to dig a well, that he hopes, could lessen the impact of the drought on his land. M’barek also owes money to the Crédit Agricole Bank. He can barely provide for his family, and his wife is pregnant.

Ayoub lives in his parallel world. He is dreamy, and spends his time be- tween the forest where he herds the small family flock of sheep, and a school where he does not seem to learn much, given his condition. Ida does her best to hold the balance within the family. In her role as a mother and a wife, she tries to alleviate her husband’s anxieties as he faces a deadline to pay his debt.

When everything fails for M’barek to find a solution to his problem, Aida suggests he go see his cousin, Omar, who may help them. But Laarbi, a friend of M’barek’s, has another idea in store. M’barek says nothing of what he plans to do. While his wife and his father both believe that he will go see his cousin to ask for a loan, he is, in fact, determined to proceed with what Laarbi advised him to do.

During the absence of M’barek, Aida’s has a miscarriage. When M’barek returns he says nothing about what happened to him. Early one morning, while he tries to resume digging his well, M’barek ends up dead in it. Ayoub tries, then, to take over, and continues his father’s work.
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Short Bio

Hakim Belabbes is an award winning Moroccan American independent filmmaker. Hakim taught film at Columbia College and The School of the Art Institute in Chicago. He also restructured and ran The Film Education and Grants Department at the Doha Film Institute, and created The Qumra Film Festival Concept for the same Institute. Hakim created The Sahara Lab Initiative which he currently runs with partners Don Smith and Hammadi Gueroum. Soon, he will be launching Sahara Lab Film Institute (SLFI). Among his films are:

Weight of The Shadow (2014)
Defining Love: A Failed Attempt (2013)
Fragments (2011)
Boiling Dreams (2010)
These Hands... (2008)
Why O’ Sea? (2006)
Threads (2003)
A Nest in the Heat (2001)

Credits

iPhone Targeted Content

Amine Ennaji – M’barek
Fatima-Ezzahra Bennaceur – Aida
Ayoub Khalfaoui – Ayoub
Hamid Najah – Grandfather
Moulay El-Hassan Zahraoui – Teacher
Mohammed Mahraoui Tziri – Imam
Hamid Belabbes – Bank Manager
Mohammed Nouimane – Laarbi
Othmane Ragoub – M’Qaddem
Jalal Abdelghani – Visitor
M’Barek Assam – Neighbour

Written & Directed by: Hakim Belabbes
Producer: Nabil Ayouch
Executive Producer: Amine Benjelloun
Cinematography: Amine Messadi
Editing: Hakim Belabbes, Agnes Starczewski
Script Consultants: Hammadi Gueroum, Souad Mellouk
“Whispers”: Zoubida Khallouk, Najia Bouchouka
Sound Design & Mix: Said Radi, Mark Wilkening
Post-Production & Color Grading: Peter Cohen
Music: Amir Sayed Al Hassan, Mohammed Ali Essoudani

iPad Targeted Content
Android Targeted Content

Amine Ennaji – M’barek
Fatima-Ezzahra Bennaceur – Aida
Ayoub Khalfaoui – Ayoub
Hamid Najah – Grandfather
Moulay El-Hassan Zahraoui – Teacher
Mohammed Mahraoui Tziri – Imam
Hamid Belabbes – Bank Manager
Mohammed Nouimane – Laarbi
Othmane Ragoub – M’Qaddem
Jalal Abdelghani – Visitor
M’Barek Assam – Neighbour

Written & Directed by: Hakim Belabbes
Producer: Nabil Ayouch
Executive Producer: Amine Benjelloun
Cinematography: Amine Messadi
Editing: Hakim Belabbes, Agnes Starczewski
Script Consultants: Hammadi Gueroum, Souad Mellouk
“Whispers”: Zoubida Khallouk, Najia Bouchouka
Sound Design & Mix: Said Radi, Mark Wilkening
Post-Production & Color Grading: Peter Cohen
Music: Amir Sayed Al Hassan, Mohammed Ali Essoudani

Blackberry Targeted Content
Desktop and all none targeted content

Amine Ennaji
Fatima-Ezzahra Bennaceur
Ayoub Khalfaoui
Hamid Najah
Moulay El-Hassan Zahraoui
Mohammed Mahraoui Tziri
Hamid Belabbes
Mohammed Nouimane
Othmane Ragoub
Jalal Abdelghani
M’Barek Assam

Written & Directed by
Producer
Executive Producer
Cinematography
Editing

Script Consultants

“Whispers”

Sound Design & Mix

Post-Production & Color Grading
Music

M’barek
Aida
Ayoub
Grandfather
Teacher
Imam
Bank Manager
Laarbi
M’Qaddem
Visitor
Neighbour

Hakim Belabbes
Nabil Ayouch
Amine Benjelloun
Amine Messadi
Hakim Belabbes
Agnes Starczewski
Hammadi Gueroum
Souad Mellouk
Zoubida Khallouk
Najia Bouchouka
Said Radi
Mark Wilkening
Peter Cohen
Amir Sayed Al Hassan
Mohammed Ali Essoudani

Image Gallery

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Contact

Producer
Nabil Ayouch
Ali n’ Productions
Rue numéro 36, Villa 80-82
Hay El Hana
Casablanca, Morocco
Phone: +212 522 949 949
E-mail:
zaoua@alinprod.com
Writer/Director
Hakim Belabbes
Hak Films
3340 W. Logan Blvd #1
Chicago, IL. 69647, USA
Phone: +1 773 807 2230,
+1 773 394 3416
E-mail:
hakimbelabbesfilm@gmail.com
Distributor
Amine Benjelloun
Zaza Films Distribution
Rue numéro 36, Villa 80-82
Hay El Hana
Casablanca, Morocco
Phone: +212 661 77 49 09
E-mail:
a.benjeloun@gmail.com