Women, Religion, and Sexuality in Contemporary Moroccan Film: Unveiling the Veiled in Hijab al-Hob (Veils of Love, 2009)

  • Author(s): Valérie K. Orlando
  • When: 2013-05
  • Where: Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International
  • The contemporary film industry in Morocco reflects the sociopolitical and cultural transitions that have taken place in the country since 1999. In the last decade, notably since the death of King Hassan II in July 1999, which symbolically ended Les Années de plomb (the Lead Years, c. 1963–1999) and the most repressive era in Morocco’s modern history, the country has engaged with the globalized world, becoming more open and democratic. Contemporary sociopolitical and cultural transitions in “the New Morocco” (Le Nouveau Maroc, as it has come to be known since the debut of the new millennium) have been contextualized in film, documentaries, and television series. As I have argued elsewhere in my work on the cultural production of Morocco, since the end of the Lead Years the country has sought to democratize and modernize on all levels of society: sociocultural, judicial, and political.1 In some respects, the monarchy of King Mohamed VI has attempted to turn the page on the past of his father’s repressive rule in order to shape a society that is forward thinking and inclusive. The cultural production of the county has reflected the issues and debates of the new era, particularly in the film and television industries. Both have benefited from the more open political climate freed of censure and this, in turn, has influenced themes and technical innovations on the screen. Visual media best depict both the dystopian and utopian realms of Morocco’s modernity, encouraging debate about the negatives and positives of the hyperglobal capitalist systems of the twenty-first century. Additionally, and most importantly, Moroccan modernity in the age of globalization has particularly impacted women and their enfranchisement in society in both positive and negative ways.

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