Before the Dying of the Light

  • Ali Essafi
  • Morocco
  • 2020
  • 70 min
  • International Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for Mid-Length Documentary

This glittering collage of posters, magazine covers, archive footage, jazz music, and cartoons takes you back to the art scene of 1970s Morocco, viewed from the perspective of the artists and actors themselves. Many of them were to end up in prison or disappear without a trace.

The story revolves around a Moroccan independent film from 1974, About Some Meaningless Events by Mostafa Derkaoui, where a group of young filmmakers explored the role the new Moroccan cinema should play in society. The counterculture arose from Marxist student movements which saw cinema as an “instrument for sensitization” and self-discovery. After just a single public screening, however, About Some Meaningless Events was censored by the government. But the negatives of this long-lost film were rediscovered in Spain and have recently been restored.

Dedicated to the victims of censorship and oppression, Before the Dying of the Light employs riotously edited fragments and evokes a time of excitement about the future, before it was extinguished by the repressive years under King Hassan II. Now that flame is briefly rekindled as these images are shown once again.


  • 70 min
  • color / black and white
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: Arabic, French
  • Subtitles in: English
Ali Essafi
Ali Essafi for Cinemaat Productions
Laterit Productions
Archives Material
Mohamed Slaoui-Andaloussi

IDFA history

International Premiere
IDFA Competition for Mid-Length Documentary

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IDFA history

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