Thursday, August 18, 2016

Trances (1981 film)




Written, shot, and directed by Ahmed El Maanoui, Trances is a documentary film about the Moroccan band Nass El Ghiwane who creates music that express the social and political world of Morocco. The film follows a band trying to make music for a country that isn’t known for making modern music as they try to make a dent into the world outside of Morocco. The result is a fascinating and exhilarating film from Ahmed El Maanoui.

The band Nass El Ghiwane that consists of percussionist Labri Batma, percussionist Omar Sayed, banjoist Allal Yaala, and bassist Abderrahman Paco had become a popular sensation in their native country of Morocco as they sing folk-inspired songs about the country around them. It’s a film that isn’t just about this band but also the world of Morocco and its culture as well as some of the political and social turmoil in the country. At the same time, there is an element of history about Morocco’s music culture as well as the songs the band perform as it relates to a few folk heroes and things around them. Still, some of the band members have day-to-day jobs they do to get by but also play shows not really for money but to entertain the people.

Told through a mixture of live performances, interviews, and profiles on the band and its individual members with some stock footage of the world of Moroccan theatre in the 1960s. Even as some of the music that was made during those times were controversial as Sayed’s brother was a popular folk singer in his time until his death in the early 1970s. The band Nass El Ghiwane plays only all acoustic, organic, and traditional instruments of their homeland not because it’s what they have but it’s also to maintain that sense of identity in a world where everyone has to keep up with the times.

Ahmed El Maanoui’s direction is very simple as it play into the excitement of the audience reacting to the music as well as capture a world that is quite lively despite not having many of the things expected in modern-day Western society. With the aid of editor Jean-Claude Bonfanti in compiling some of the stock footage and sound recordist Ricardo Castro in capturing the music played on film. El Maanoui would create something that is vibrant as it showcases how much the music so much to the people who feel removed from the modern world.

Trances is a phenomenal film from Ahmed El Maanoui that explores the music of Nass El Ghiwane. It’s a film that manages to showcase a culture that is very unique as well as enthralling while maintaining its sense of identity in an ever-changing world. In the end, Trances is a sensational film from Ahmed El Maanoui.

© thevoid99 2016

2 comments:

Wendell Ottley said...

Another doc I never heard of. Haven't heard of the band, either. Sounds really interesting, though. Any idea if it's on Netflix?

thevoid99 said...

I don't think so. I'm pretty sure it's on Hulu from the Criterion Collection as it's part of a box set of films along with Touki Bouki that covers world cinema.