Sur la planche

This dynamic drama filmed in film noir style exposes the effects of  globalisation on people at the lower end of the labour market by following two young women who are trapped in tedious jobs in a shrimp factory. Director Laila Kilani belongs to a refreshing new generation of female Arab filmmakers. Her film received a number of awards, including the International Film Critics Fipresci prize.

The Tangier Free Zone is a Europeanized enclave which attracts all kinds of young women from across Morocco. The new Exportation Free Zone and nearby port carry the promise of a better future until real life catches up with them. The women belong to one of two categories, those who work in textile factories and those who work in shrimp factories – and there’s a hierarchy. Textile workers derive some modest prestige working for leading international fashion brands. The girls who are peeling shrimps, on the other hand, are forced to do monotonous work that only leaves them reeking of fish. Whereas the one group is stuck in a job that offers only minor advantages, the other group desperately tries to escape.

Like Badia and Imane, two zesty friends who work by day peeling shrimps in a factory and go out robbing men under false pretences at night. In her dynamic drama filmed in film noir style, director Kilani offers a raw and authentic portrait of underprivileged workers who are hoping to obtain a better future via the Free Zone, which they see as a springboard (the “planche” of the title). However, they only end up getting more and more trapped. Earlier, Kilani made a documentary about immigrants trying to make it across to Europe via the Moroccan port of Tangier.