The film ‘El houb’ is about a Dutch-Moroccan family that avoids sensitive subjects. “It’s a universal love story about a family that has to learn to talk about sensitive topics,” director and screenwriter Shariff Nasr explains in the statement. movie newspaper. The Moroccan-Dutch Karim, the main character in the film, returns to his parental home in Rotterdam after being caught with a man by his father. He tells his family that he likes men, but his parents ignore his confession.
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The existing image in the MENA community is that as a homosexual you have to choose between your family and your sexuality. “But what if you want both, if you want to combine it?” asks Nasr. “This film was born from that idea. To bring out a different image, something that we should talk about. I don’t think there is a film about the MENA community or the Arab community that is about dialogue. About emotional subjects are often not discussed. Not only about sexual orientation, but also about subjects such as suicide, depression and mental health in general. Because such topics are not discussed, one does not know what the other person thinks. That is not only something of the Arab world; worldwide there are plenty of countries in which a culture of silence reigns. It was no different in the Netherlands in the past and I still hear harrowing stories from areas here,” said the director and screenwriter.
Yet the film is not an indictment. “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to condemn or stigmatize. El Houb does not attack the community or the faith, but tells about a family that suddenly has to learn to deal with something. Everyone has their own point of view and that is what has been discussed and understood. It’s a kind of onion you’re peeling. Every time there is a new layer and another layer. Like a psychological drama in which you get to know the perspectives and in which even the main character has not yet accepted himself.”
Nasr placed his film in the Moroccan-Dutch community and first involved protagonist Fahd Larhzaoui in his project, but he also often spoke with Tofik Dibi to clarify the perspective. “If the interest is genuine, there’s no other way than a genuine film comes out. As long as you don’t do it as a gimmick, because something is hot or feels ‘exotic’. I know the Arab community inside out. There are definitely differences with the Moroccan community, but a lot is recognizable. I started talking a lot, not only with Fahd and Tofik, but with dozens of people from the Moroccan community, to get everything as authentic as possible and fact-checked. The actors also got a say in the script and because of that it has become a very original story. Can I tell a story about this as a straight? I think so. I don’t think this is necessarily an lgbtqia+ story, but a universal love story about a family that has to learn to talk about sensitive subjects.”
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Nasr sees his film in the first place as a fervent plea for more dialogue. “Everyone has an opinion ready too quickly. We no longer listen to each other. Social media has greatly reinforced that. No matter how ridiculous your opinion is, you can always find like-minded people on social media. Then you will soon no longer be ashamed. for a stupid opinion. I also see this polarization in talk shows where one extreme is often put against the other. Everyone argues, we all don’t know, end of show. In the talk shows of the past it seemed like the host at the end I wanted to draw some kind of conclusion. I miss that now. Nobody says: I get your side, I understand your pain, what can we change? When I watch a talk show these days, nobody is looking for a solution. What we are looking for being is a high pitched argument, ratings and sensation, and disguised that as a good dialogue. What you see is not a dialogue, but two monologues. We then listened to that and then we move on again. I miss the grayscale and look for it me on i n El Houb. There is a lot between the black and white that surrounds us. Only when we really start talking about it will we ensure a better future.”
El Houb by director Shariff Nasr will have its Dutch premiere on October 10 at Koninklijk Theater Tuschinski in Amsterdam.