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Horses of God

Les chevaux de Dieu

Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch delivers a devastatingly powerful, and sweepingly cinematic, portrayal of what turns a group of football-loving kids into suicide bombers.

Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.


Image gallery

  • Director Nabil Ayouch
  • Producer Nabil Ayouch, Pierre-Ange Le Pogam, Eric Van Beuren, Patrick Quinet
  • Screenwriter Jamal Belmahi
  • With Abdelhakim Rachid, Abdelilah Rachid, Hamza Souidek
  • Morocco-France-Belgium 2012
  • 115 mins
  • Sales Wild Bunch

What could compel two ordinary, football-loving brothers to become part of a cell of suicide bombers? That is one question – among others – that Moroccan filmmaker Nabil Ayouch dares to ask in Horses of God, a thoughtful, masterfully controlled adaptation of Mahi Binebine’s novel The Stars Of Sidi Moumen. Inspired by the real-life 2003 terrorist attacks in Casablanca, Ayouch’s film follows two brothers over the course of a decade. While they begin as kids in search of thrills in the sprawling slums of Morocco’s Sidi Moumen, we witness their gradual, and ultimately shocking, radicalisation. Rather than opt for dry didacticism, however, Ayouch fashions a visually sumptuous and often breathless coming-of-age story that is reminiscent, at times, of Fernando Meirelles’ City of God, albeit with a tragic twist in the tale. A major achievement by one of North Africa’s most important filmmakers.
Ali Jaafar

Director statement

The terrorist attacks of May 16th 2003 were, for me like the rest of Morocco, a violent and incomprehensible shock. For, on that day, it was Moroccans, and not foreign fanatics, who blew themselves up among many innocent victims. It took me a long time to understand it and to accept it but, on May 16th 2003, the victims were on both sides. This film takes us across the ring road that surrounds Casablanca and plunges us into the outskirts we are frightened of, to meet human beings and to discover their friendships, relationships, families and dreams: to try to understand how these dreams turned first to hate, and then to barbarity.
Nabil Ayouch

Director biography

Born in 1969 in Paris, he works predominantly there and in Casablanca, as both a filmmaker and a noted activist in the cultural politics of the Southern European/North African interface. His first short film, 1992’s The Blue Rocks of the Desert, marked the discovery of actor Jamel Debouzze, while his first features (starting with Mektoub in 1997) successively represented Morocco’s nominations for the foreign-language Oscars. He has directed several high-profile live shows, and in 1999 founded Ali n’ Productions, a company through which he helps young directors to launch their careers. In 2008 he helmed the French-Canadian co-production Whatever Lola Wants, set in Egypt and featuring an American wannabe belly-dancer, while in 2011 he released his first documentary feature film, My Land (filmed in the Middle East).

Filmography

1992 Les Pierres bleues du désert [s]
1993 Hertzienne connexion (Frequency Connection) [s]
1994 Vendeur de silence (The Silent Seller) [s]
1997 Mektoub
2000 Ali Zaoua, prince de la rue
2003 Une minute de soleil en moins [TV]
2008 Whatever Lola Wants 2011 My Land [doc]
2012 Les Chevaux de Dieu (The Horses of God)

Read the Time Out review.

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