Berlinale: Programme

Film file


Obour al bab assabea

Crossing the Seventh Gate

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"La Septième Porte" (The Seventh Door) is the title of a 300-page film historical work dedicated to Moroccan cinema between 1907 and 1986. It was written by Ahmed Bouanani (1938–2011) by hand over many years, but was never published. Neither his contribution to film history nor the five films (four of them shorts) he made between 1966 and 1980, which also pursue the politics of memory, could count on support in postcolonial Morocco. Ali Essafi’s portrait film equally takes a stand against the state-driven policy of forgetting. He visited Bouanani three years before the latter’s death. The filmmaker, poet and novelist who also made drawings was leading a reclusive life in a remote village with his wife Naïma and many cats, living in the midst of huge piles of books and manuscripts, those that had been spared from a devastating fire. He was physically frail but unbroken in spirit. The discussions about how he saw his position, censorship, the filmmaking ban he received and his work as a film editor are combined with film excerpts, photos, a TV interview and other documents to map out the contours of an independent artist and his oeuvre that are both full of integrity.

Ali Essafi

Morocco 2017

French, Arabic

Documentary form
80’ · Black/White & Colour


Written and Directed by
Ali Essafi
Hakim Belabbes, Hassan Ouazzani, Ali Essafi
Chaghig Arzoumanian
Sound Design
Rana Eid
Touda Bouanani, Ali Essafi
Ali Essafi, Cinemaat Prod
Rasha Salti


Ali Essafi

Born in 1963 in Fez, Morocco. He completed a degree in Psychology in France, where he began working as an assistant director on numerous documentary and feature films from 1991. In 1997, he made his first film, Général, nous voilà!. He returned to Morocco in 2002, and was the artistic director for Moroccan television (SNRT) from 2006 until 2009. Ali Essafi works as a filmmaker, curator, cinematographer, and video artist.


1997 Général, nous voilà!; 60 min. 1998 Le Silence des champs de betteraves; 54 min. 1999 Paris mois par mois; 26 min. 2001 Ouarzazate; 55 min. 2002 Al Jazira, les Arabes de 1424!; 66 min. 2004 Le Blues des Shikhates; 57 min. 2011 Fuite!; 29 min. 2015 Le Cosmonaute; 80 min. · Nos sombres années 70; 75 min. 2017 Obour al bab assabea (Crossing the Seventh Gate)

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2017

Produced by

Cinemaat Prod