All Access Streaming $99

ALI ZAOUA

Directed by Nabil Ayouch
  • YEAR 1 - FILM 3 / 
  • Morocco and France / 
  • 2000 / 
  • Arabic with English subtitles / 
  • 98 min
TRAILER
ALI ZAOUA DVD & Online Streaming
Member Pricing
DVD+Stream $14.95
Stream-Only $2.99
Non-Member Pricing
DVD+Stream $24.95
Stream-Only $3.99
"Stirring!"
– New York Post
"Compassion that's evident in every shot!"
– Moira Macdonald, The Seattle Times
"I highly recommend this one!"
– Don Houston, DVDTalk

Synopsis

Ali, Kwita, Omar, and Boukber are a group of street urchins living on the hard streets of Casablanca. Their everyday lives are filled with violence, begging, and indifference. In order to survive they create a bond of friendship and family between then. The bond is cut short when Ali is senselessly killed at the beginning of the film by a blow to the head; his life taken by a single act of a rival gang. Ali's friends decide not to report his death to the police, who would have the boy buried in a potter's field. Instead they decide to give him a worthy burial, to bury Ali on the private island he so often dreamed of. Ali Zaoua captures the power of dreams and presence of hope in the harshest of circumstances.

EL BOLA
Directed by Achero Manas
YEAR 1 FILM 1
Pablo is a 12-year old boy raised in a violent and unforgiving environment. Embarrassed by his family life, he retreats from his classmates, engaging them only through a dangerous game. The arrival of a new boy at school, from whom he learns a new definition of friendship, leads to the discovery of a family where communication and love prevail over domination and violence. The film poignantly parallels the lives of a caring father unable to connect with his willful son, and that of distant Pablo and his abusive father who is incapable of giving him the love he needs, replacing it with something far more sinister. Told through both the children's and adults' points of view, El Bola is a stirring story that lodges in the memory.
MORE INFO »
A CALL GIRL
Directed by Damjan Kozole
YEAR 8 FILM 3
Having grown up in small-town Slovenia, 23-year-old Alexandra embraces the excitement and anonymity of big city life when she moves to the capital. She styles herself as a call girl, planning to take advantage of everything the city has to offer. But her isolated existence - English studies and mortgage payments by day, call girl lifestyle by night - is shattered when one of her clients, a visiting politician, dies of a heart attack on her watch. Alexandra must suddenly confront fear, guilt, and desperation as she finds herself pursued by a band of local pimps, as well as the cops, hot on her trail. The old village life she had escaped from might now become her only refuge.
MORE INFO »
THE COLORS OF THE MOUNTAIN
Directed by Carlos César Arbeláez
YEAR 9 FILM 3
Young Manuel lives with his hard-working farmer parents in the remote, mountainous region of the Colombian countryside. While the adults in their lives try to avoid both the armed military and the guerrilla rebels fighting each other in the area, Manuel and his friend Julián are obsessed with playing soccer any chance they get. Shortly after his birthday, the new ball Manuel received as a gift gets kicked off to a minefield, and he, Julián and their albino friend Poca Luz will do everything in their power to recover their prized belonging—an essential part of their everyday lives and dreams.
MORE INFO »
BEFORE YOUR EYES
Directed by Miraz Bezar
YEAR 9 FILM 8
Ten year old Gulistan and her brother Firat live in the heart of Turkish Kurdistan. Tragedy strikes when their parents are shot down by paramilitary gunmen before their very eyes. Traumatized and orphaned, Gulistan and Firat try to care for their infant sister, but their money soon runs out and they're forced onto the street. It is there that Gulistan meets the part-time escort Dilara. Accompanying her on a hotel call one day, Gulistan is shocked to discover Dilara's client is the murderer of her parents, and quickly devises a plan for revenge.
MORE INFO »
CLANDESTINE CHILDHOOD
Directed by Benjamín Ávila
YEAR 10 FILM 12
Argentina, 1979. After years of exile, Juan (12) and his family come back to Argentina under fake identities. Juan's parents and his uncle Beto are members of the Montoneros Organization, which is fighting against the Military Junta that rules the country. Because of their political activities they are being tracked down relentlessly, and the threat of capture and even death is constant. However, Juan's daily life is also full of warmth and humor, and he quickly and easily integrates into his new environment. His friends at school and the girl he has a gigantic crush on, Maria, know him as Ernesto, a name he must not forget, since his family's survival is at stake. Juan accepts this and follows all of his parents' rules until one day he is told that they need to move again immediately, and leave his friends and Maria behind without an explanation. This is a story about militancy, undercover life, and love. The story of a clandestine childhood.
MORE INFO »

Editorial Reviews

'Ali Zaoua' finds magical beauty in street kids' bleak reality

By Moira Macdonald

Set in the seared streets and vacant lots of Casablanca, "Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets" is populated by children: boys, aged perhaps 8 or 9, with scratchy little voices and sad eyes. There's nothing cute about these boys — they're grubby street urchins, petty thieves and glue sniffers — and nothing childlike about their dilemma, as they try to collect money to bury a dead friend in the manner of a prince.

Director/co-writer Nabil Ayouch spent several years befriending actual Moroccan street kids before making his film, and this is reflected in the ease of the mostly non-actor cast. The boys, who alternate between boyish exuberance and soul-crushing sadness, are perfectly natural for Ayouch's camera, giving a documentary-like realism to the story.

It's clear from the start that there can be no happy ending for these Lost Boys — abandoned by their parents, their choices are to live alone on the dangerous streets, or to join up with the mysteriously scarred Dib (Said Tahgmaoui), a sadistic gang leader. But Ayouch, carefully walking a tightrope between realism and sentimentality, shows us a third option: a magical fantasy future, shown in animation, in which young Ali, who always wanted to be a sailor, paddles away to an island paradise.

And director of photography Vincent Mathias finds the beauty in an ink-blue Moroccan night sky, or a watercolorlike final shot with two suns quietly glowing. "Ali Zaoua" occasionally crosses the line into heavy-handedness, particularly in one scene in which a boy repeatedly tosses away a lame puppy who nonetheless keeps returning. But it's the eyes of the children, not the puppy, that stay with you after "Ali Zaoua" is over — as well as the compassion that's evident in every frame.

--Moira Macdonald/ The Seattle Times - Review

March 15, 2002

By Jamie Russell

Ali Zaoua may have been left to wander the streets of Casablanca with the rest of the city's glue-sniffing street urchins, but when he's killed in a stone fight with a gang of boys, his three friends decide to bury him "like a prince".

Eking out a life amid the squalor of Morocco's port and taking refuge in the city's abandoned construction sites, Kwita, Omar, and Boubker don't have much chance of giving him the funeral he deserves. They can barely find enough food to eat, whatever money they steal gets spent on glue, and deaf-and-dumb gang leader Dib (Saïd Taghmaoui, from "Three Kings") is after them.

Nabil Ayouch's film immerses us in the lives of these grubby street kids, limiting the adult roles to just three characters. It's at its best when showing us the fractured innocence that these children share - they may only be eight, but they've already developed an understanding of the harsh realities of the world that's far beyond their years. At the same time, Ayouch captures their childish dreams in a series of (glue-induced) hallucinations where a series of chalk drawings come to life.

The script puts this clash between innocence and experience to good effect in the marvellous dialogue that constantly switches from naiveté to profanity and back again. But it's the beguiling performances from the three young children that are really captivating, and it's their sense of the comic and the tragic elements of their predicament that gives the film its enjoyable energy. A real treat.

--Jamie Russell/ BBCI - Review

May 9, 2003

By Don Houston

Picture:The picture was presented in 2.35:1 ratio Anamorphic Widescreen and looked very detailed with a multitude of textures. There was obviously a lot of thought that went into the composition of the movie on a technical basis and I noticed very few problems that weren't related to conscious decisions on the part of Director Ayouch.

Sound: The audio was in Arabic with English subtitles in a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. For the most part, this aspect of the movie was also very clear and crisp.

Final Thoughts: For all the diminished hopes of the children involved with this movie and the stark contrast between the background they suffered through and what I'm used to, I thought the movie was immensely enjoyable. There was little or no attempt to portray the leads as completely sympathetic and that only added to the reality of the message. The larger message, for me at least, concerned the disposable nature of lives in society and even in a rich country like ours, it's a problem. I highly recommend this one to fans of foreign cinema and I'll be looking for future efforts by this director (and company).

--Don Houston/ DVDTalk - Review

Write a review »

Customer Reviews


Jeff in Seattle - Customer Review


Bryan Pfleeger - Customer Review
I do not usually see a lot of Moroccan films. In fact, this is probably my intoduction to the cinema of Morocco and Nabil Ayouch's little film is a great intoduction to a culture that not may not be familiar to most casual viewers. Ali, Kwita, Omar and Boubker are street kids living near the port in present day Casablanca. Their existence is not an easy one; it would seem that their only souce of pleasure is sniffing glue. The four boys have just run away from a violent street gang that seemsto include most of the homeless kids in the city. One day early in the film Ali who had dreamed of being a sailor is killed by a random act of violence. It is up to his friends to find the means to bury him and to try to keep his dreams alive. Ayouch utilizes both his non professional actors and his location quite well. At times the cinematography of Vincent Mathias can be quite striking. The story though a simple one has great resonance. These kids even though living in a very foreign place have the same dreams and problems of children living anywhere. They look for the same things anyone is searching for: a family and a place to belong. The film is presented in standard definition with good subtitles. Film Movement is to be congratulated for bringing to wide attention a film that few would have seen outside the international festival circuit. Included with the feature film is the short film by Mike Mills The Architecture of Reassurance. Well worth checking out.

Photos

Click photo to enlarge. Then copy as you would any online image.
ALI ZAOUA Movie Photo
Said Taghmaoui in Ali Zaoua
ALI ZAOUA Movie Photo
Mounim Kbab in Ali Zaoua
ALI ZAOUA Movie Photo
Mounim Kbab, Mustapha Hansali, and Hicham Moussoune in Ali Zaoua
ALI ZAOUA Movie Photo
Hicham Moussoune in Ali Zaoua
ALI ZAOUA Movie Photo
Ali Zoua poster (hi res)