Source: Courtesy of Marrakech International Film Festival

Halima Ouardiri

Jeanne-Marie Poulain of Canada’s Art et Essai and Alaa Eddine Aljem and Francesca Duca of Morocco’s Le Moindre Geste have signed on to co-produce Halima Ouardiri’s feature debut The Camel Driving School which was presented at this week’s Atlas Workshops in Marrakech.

The Camel Driving School won the Atlas development prize of €20,000 at this year’s edition of the Atlas Workshops.

The film, currently in development, went into the Workshops with French producers Margaux Juvénal of Take Shelter and Nicolas Eschbach and Maud Leclair Névé of Indie Prod. Take Shelter has previously co- produced Ramata-Toulaye Sy’s Banel & Adama, which was selected in Competition at this year’s Festival de Cannes, while Indie Prod previous co-productions include Jasmila Žbanić’s 2020 Bafta and Oscar-nominated title Quo Vadis, Aïda? and Emad Aleebrahim Dehkordi’s 2022 A Tale of Shemroon.

The Camel Driving School tells the story of a Moroccan housewife who takes up a job in a pastry shop to support herself and her son following her husband’s death. There, she meets a group of independent women who are involved in the Camel Driving School, a club which prepares for amateur rallies in the desert and begins living a double life.

The film is co-written by Ouardiri and Emma Benestan, and will be directed by the Canadian-Moroccan filmmaker, in her feature film debut. Ouardiri’s previous work includes Mutts, which received the Crystal Bear for the Best Short Film at the 2020 Berlinale and her 2023 short, The Skates, premiered at TIFF earlier this year.

About the project, Ouardiri told Screen “I really want the film to be a fable with a very colorful art direction and characters who express their true emotions. With them, I wish to celebrate the strength of Moroccan women, as well as bringing happiness and energy to the audience”.

”Halima has created a daring, funny, and deeply authentic story that we can’t wait to share with the world,” added Eschbach.

The project is still looking for MENA funding and French distribution to secure the film’s anchor financing. The international sales agent is yet to be announced.

The Camel Driving School hopes to start production in late 2024.