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Dir. Faouzi Bensaïdi
123 min

US Premiere

The bittersweet travails of two not-very-successful Casablanca-based debt collectors as they traverse the arid villages of Morocco in search of loan deadbeats eventually intersects with a tragic love story in Deserts, the sixth feature from Moroccan helmer-writer Faouzi Bensaïdi. Boasting striking Cinemascope visuals, it’s a non-linear drama spiked with ellipses that mixes moods and genres. Those that prefer straightforward cinema with dotted Is and crossed Ts will be out of their comfort zone here, but it provides manna for cinephiles. Most of the action in the first half unreels in absurdist vignettes reminiscent of Elia Sulieman’s oeuvre and usually stuffed with visual humor. It’s clear that Bensaïdi casts his landscapes as carefully as he does his actors and the awe-inspiring, widescreen, deep focus compositions that he and DoP Florian Berutti create keep the film visually interesting even when the mood changes. –Alissa Simon

Film Details

Release Year: 2023
Runtime: 123 min
Country/Region: Morocco, France, Belgium, Germany
Language: Arabic, French
Print Source: Urban Sales
Tags: Dark Comedy, Drama, Dramedy, Sociopolitical, SWANA Stories


Director: Faouzi Bensaïdi
Producer: Saïd Hamich Benlarbi
Cinematographer: Florian Berutti
Screenwriter: Faouzi Bensaïdi
Editor: Faouzi Bensaïdi, Véronique Lange
Principal Cast: Fehd Benchemsi, Abdelhadi Taleb, Rabii Benjhaile, Hajar Graigaa