Boston filmmaking brothers Steffen and Christian Pierce will screen their second and latest movie, “Marrakech Inshallah,” at 7 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 16) at the Harvard Film Archive, 24 Quincy St., and answer questions afterward. ($8 general public, $6 students and senior citizens.)
Shot in Arabic and Berber using local actors, the 90-minute film is about two young brothers who hitchhike from their mountain village across a stunning desert landscape to Marrakech, only to end up on the streets. “The viewer becomes drawn into the poverty, the magic, and the struggles of their everyday lives,” said Steffen Pierce in an interview with NewEnglandFilm.com. Their lives, he said, “are torn between the traditions of the past and encroaching Western consumer values.” (Steffen is assistant curator at the Harvard Film Archive.)
The Inshallah of the title is “God willing” in Arabic, a frequently used expression in the Muslim world. It represents a sense of fate that is largely absent in the West, with its cultural imperative that people be individualistic and have their lives in their own hands.
“Marrakech Inshallah,” which may be the last feature movie shot on Super 8, was filmed over three months in the Moroccan cities of Marrakech, Rich, and Essouaira.
Morocco was also the setting of the first film by the Pierce brothers, a documentary titled “The Bride Market of Imilchil” (1987). Returning to the United States after filming, they discovered their subjects had all been arrested for questioning by Moroccan authorities.
Because of that experience, “Marrakech Inshallah” evolved into a meditation not only on Morocco, but on the responsibilities documentary filmmakers have to their subjects.
– Corydon Ireland