Ajyal Film Festival 2024

All Films

Trances (El Hal)

Special Screening

Ahmed El Maanouni / Feature Documentary / Morocco / 1981 / 87 min / Colour / DigiBeta
In Arabic / Arabic, English, French subtitles
Interests: Documentary, Music, Restoration


Part-concert film, part-documentary, Ahmed El Maanouni’s ‘Trances’ looks at legendary Moroccan artists Nass El Ghiwane ten years into their career. Their radical and highly original blend of poetry, theatre and regional traditions –influenced by Berber, Gnaouia and Andalusian styles – broke away from the conventions of the time. Using only traditional instruments and borrowing from the texts of ancient classic poets, they found fame at home, accolades abroad, and have influenced musicians and filmmakers the world over – most famously Martin Scorsese. The film identifies and celebrates the continuity of cultural expression and the endurance of tradition through times of social upheaval, and El Maanouni focuses on the band’s employment of the trance aesthetic, which, in the hands of the band, is transformed from sacred ritual to secular frenzy. ‘Trances’ was the first Moroccan film selected for the Cannes Film Festival, and the first restored by Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation.

About the Directors

Born in Casablanca in 1944, Ahmed El Maânouni worked as a cinematographer before directing such films as ‘Oh the Days!’ (1978), ‘Eyes of the Gulf’ (1985), ‘The Moroccan Goumiers’ (1992), the documentary trilogy ‘Morocco France’ (2005-6) and ‘Burned Heart’ (2007). He wrote the screenplay for ‘Les Pierres bleues du désert’, the debut short of Nabil Ayouch .


Ahmed El Maanouni
Ahmed El Maanouni
Izza Génini
Jean-Claude Bonfanti
Nass El Ghiwane
Ahmed El Maanouni
Nass El Ghiwane

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