Ayouch first came to attention in 2000 with his second feature, Ali Zaoua, Prince Of The Streets, a drama about children in Casablanca which won international prizes from St Louis to Stockholm. The latest title from the film-maker, whose mother is French-Jewish and father is Moroccan-Muslim, is Whatever Lola Wants. It takes place in New York and Egypt and will be released by Pathe in France in April. Ayouch says that growing up outside Paris has been "a great source of inspiration" but he does not make films that are "anchored in one culture. I can't say it's French or Arab - it's in between."
Albou, whose father's family hails from Algeria, won critical acclaim for her 2005 debut feature La Petite Jerusalem which played Critics' Week at Cannes that year. The film was set in the Parisian suburbs and told the story of two sisters struggling with their faith. Her latest film, The Wedding Song, will be released by Pyramide Distribution this year. It tells the story of two best friends, one Muslim, one Jewish, struggling to stay together as the world falls apart around them.
ABDEL RAOUF DAFRI
"There's a fringe of artists like me who don't want to denounce, but rather bring into focus the real attitude of France towards its immigrants, " says screenwriter Dafri. French-born of North African descent, Dafri did just that with the Canal Plus drama series La Commune. His next project is Jacques Audiard's upcoming feature Le Prophete and two films with director Jean-Francois Richet, Death Instinct and Public Enemy No1. "I want to show the French how things really are," he explains. "You know, for a long time they thought they won the war in Algeria!" A fan of US film-makers of the 1970s, including Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Michael Cimino, Dafri suggests there is a "lack of imagination in France. We have to start taking ourselves seriously and get to work. Movies should be entertaining but touch the conscience."
A director, writer, producer and actor, Ameur-Zaimeche was first heralded for his 2001 debut feature Wesh Wesh, Qu'Est-Ce Qui Se Passe', about a young man trying to make his way in the Parisian suburbs after his release from prison. The film won the Louis Delluc prize for best first film and Ameur-Zaimeche followed it up with 2006's Bled Number One, about the difficulties facing Algerian immigrants. It earned the Youth Award at Cannes. He is now working on Le Dernier Maquis, about rural guerilla bands of French Resistance fighters during the Second World War. The project, which is very much under wraps, is generating buzz in France.