Ms Rachida El Garani, Belgian director of Moroccan origin and alumni of the Erasmushogeschool Brussel, has recently won several prices at international film festivals with her MA graduation film 'Into Darkness'. The film was created thanks to the material Ms El Garani has collected during the shooting sessions in Morocco for the documentary film of the RUMI project: Network of Moroccan Universities for Inclusive Education (Réseau des universités marrocaines pour l'enseignement inclusif) developed with the support of the Tempus programme of the European Union. UNICA, as coordinator of the RUMI project, is proud to have contributed to the creation of “Into Darkness”.
“Into Darkness” premiered in November 2015 at the Cinema Tuschinski in Amsterdam. This 31-minute documentary portrays a Moroccan family of 12 facing many challenges in everyday life as most of the family members are blind due to a genetic disorder. The story of “Into Darkness” is told from the perspective of the 11-year-old Mohammed who, as the only one in the family, has not lost his eyesight completely and dreams about keeping it, The other strong character in the film is Naima, the aunt of Mohammed, who studies at a university in Marrakesh with an aim to earn good living one day to get the family out of poverty. Although the family struggles to support Naima’s studies and there is no guarantee that Mohammed's condition will not worsen, the story spreads the message of hope as the family keeps their dreams alive despite the difficult circumstances.
The film was shown at several international film festivals, starting with the premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in November 2015, where the film was nominated for the Student Documentary best graduation production, through the Wildcard Documentary competition by the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF) in December 2015, where El Garani received a prize for experimental audiovisual work, to the award across the ocean at the LA Film Festival in June 2016, where the filmmaker won the audience award in the short film category.
All her life Rachida El Garani was passionate about photography and cinema, but it took her some ttime to fulfill her dream. Before pursuing the filmmaker career, El Garani gained 18 years of experience in various fields such as sales, administration and consultancy. With the support of her family, at 36 years old, she enrolled at the EHB film school and four years later graduated with her film ‘Into Darkness’.
RUMI - Network of Moroccan Universities for Inclusive Education is a project funded by the Tempus Structural Measures programme of the European Union. It seeks to facilitate access of disadvantaged groups to higher education in Morocco according to the principles of equity, tolerance, openness and equal opportunities. The RUMI documentary film, also directed by Rachida El Garani, will be presented during the RUMI consortium meeting in Meknes, Morocco, on 18-19 July 2016. The fim tells stories of four Moroccan students facing challenges of inclusion in their academic life and at the same time shedding more light into the efforts of academic leadership and the Moroccan government to the local Higher Education Area as a place of equal opportunities.