“Habiba”: A film about love in the time of Covid

“Habiba”: A film about love in the time of Covid

As part of the fiction feature film competition of the 22nd Tangier National Film Festival

Hassan Benjelloun’s new film, “Habiba”, has just been presented in Tangier, in the presence of film critics, journalists, artists as well as simple enthusiasts of the seventh art, as part of the long-running competition -fiction film of the twenty-second National Film Festival (FNF) of Tangier, which continues until September 24. This 90-minute film tells the story of an innocent love born during the period of sanitary confinement linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, the first cases of which were declared in Morocco in the spring of 2020.

Musician and composer, Fettah Negadi was chosen for this feature film by Hassan Benjelloun to embody the role of Fettah, a music teacher, blind, who over time has been able to adapt to his situation of disability and not to depend from anyone. In addition to his incarnation of the first role in “Habiba”, this laureate of the Casablanca Conservatory, blind, was also commissioned to compose the music for this film. After “The Red Moon” (2013) by the same director and in tribute to the memory of the blind Moroccan composer, Abdessalam Amer, “this is the second time that we have worked together, Fettah Negadi and me”, said Hassan Benjelloun , noting that he succeeded as usual in convincing and pleasing the public with his new role in “Habiba”.

The story of this film takes place between Casablanca and the rural town of Aïn Belal (dependent on the province of Settat), more precisely during the period of sanitary confinement linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. “Habiba” features Fettah and his student Habiba, whose character is played by young actress Fatim Ezzahra Baladi. This music teacher, very sensitive, attentive and ready to help in need, saw his life change when he decided to welcome this young student into his home during this period of confinement. Because with the closure of the hotel, where she was staying, Habiba could not reach her village because of the travel ban to prevent the spread of the pandemic on national territory. Thus, they then had enough time both to get to know each other better and to get closer to each other.

Beyond despair and frustration, a complicity then a mutual attraction will be born between these two sensitive and lost beings. They will share their memories, their hopes and especially privileged moments of music. Fettah evokes his misfortunes linked to the abandonment of his family by leaving him alone to face his fate as a blind person. While the young person does not feel any embarrassment to tell him about her running away to join the conservatory of the city in order to be able to develop her passion for music and make a career there.

Let us recall that in addition to the screening of films, the program of the twenty-second FNF in Tangier includes other activities, including the special tribute paid to Feu Nour-Eddine Saïl, screenwriter, novelist, producer and film critic, for its role in the development of the seventh art in Morocco. Other tributes were paid to Izza Génini, director, producer and distributor, Souad Lamriki, producer, Mohamed Abderrahmane Tazi, producer and director, Al Hosain Boudih, president of the Moroccan Chamber of Cinemas, and Ali Hassan, journalist- radio and television presenter.

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