The Blue Caftan Director Maryam Touzani Talks Emotional Intimacy and Sharing Personal Stories with the World in This Interview

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The Blue Caftan screens at Perth Festival from March 20th to 26th, before having a theatrical release in cinemas.

Maryam Touzani’s sublime and sweet drama, The Blue Caftan, is a film that will stick with me for a long time. Filmed in Morocco, a region of the world where gay relationships come with a criminal sentence, this tells the story of Halim (Saleh Bakri), a maalem, or a master tailor, who works with the support of his wife Mina (Lubna Azabal) to craft stunning, intricate and personal garments.

In this interview, Maryam talks about how the titular garment, the Blue Caftan, was created, how she presented the sense of touch on screen, and about the power of giving her actors the space to explore emotional intimacy.

Throughout the film, we see Halim work on crafting the titular ‘blue caftan’ for an extremely demanding client who cannot understand why he’s taking so long. After all, the machine made garments can be constructed in half the time and, to their eyes, look just as good.

Halim and Mina have a tender, caring relationship with one another, and it’s a testament to simply how great Maryam Touzani’s direction is that she’s able to give these two actors the space to create a loving, genuine relationship on screen. Equally important is the understanding that the two have in their relationship, with Halim seeking the comfort of men outside of his relationship with Mina.

Knowing that the art of being a maalem is dying out, Halim brings on an apprentice, Youssef (Ayoub Missioui) to learn the trade. On paper, The Blue Caftan suggests that it’s going to lean into some very high drama stakes, but Maryam cares so tenderly for her characters that she allows them each to find a moment of joy in the time of darkness.

The Blue Caftan was shortlisted for the Academy Awards, and continues the great work that Maryam is creating after her previous stellar feature film, Adam, which also showed marginalised groups finding comfort with one another on screen.

Andrew F Peirce

Andrew is passionate about Australian cinema, Australian politics, Australian culture, and Australia in general. Found regularly talking online about Sweet Country, and reminding people to watch Young Adult.

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