First of Film Club’s foreign films to Screen at the Roxy

May 27, 2016

The North West Theatre Company Film Club has recently been praised for the diversity and variety of their program, and that there is something for everyone – comedy, drama, action and cultural gems.

Following on from “The Great Escape” (February), “A Fish Called Wanda” (March) and “In the Heat of the Night” (April) comes a film set in Tangiers, Morocco. It is called “Rock the Casbah”, and is described as “A Comedy – about a tragedy”.

Although there are some funny sequences, I would certainly place the film in the drama category. The Film Club discovered this inspiring film at last year’s Armidale International Film Festival, and immediately thought “we must put this on in Bingara”.

It is a lavish production, displaying the Mediterranean coast around Tangiers in all its lavish beauty. This was a surprise – one does not expect the coastline of Africa to be as beautiful as that of Italy.

The film involves the death of a family patriarch (Omar Sharif in his second last film role) and the coming together of his disconnected family to mourn his passing, attend his funeral and resolve their grief.

However it is their personal differences that have to be resolved – and it takes some doing! The family comes together for three days in their home to share their memories and to grieve his loss according to Muslim tradition. They have left the beach and swapped swimsuits for djellabas as everyone gathers in a show of mourning.

However sparks start to fly when prodigal daughter Sofia jets in from New York after several years away.

The youngest, she made a new life for herself as an actress in America, but she only ever gets roles as terrorists on US TV. Her return provides the opportunity to settle some scores with her sisters, as the order once maintained by their father breaks down. Between laughter and tears, a collective hysteria leads each of the women to face up to some home truths that have boiled beneath the surface for years.

There are some wonderful portrayals – my favourite character is the grandmother, played by Assia Bentria. However, although only a very small part (obviously!), the role of the deceased father, successful businessman Moulay Hassan, played in his second-last role by Omar Sharif, is the standout. Sharif made only one more film after “Rock the Casbah”, and died in 2015.

Omar Sharif was an amazing man. He had starring roles in “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Doctor Zhivago”, plus no less than 67 other films and a good deal of television work. He was also one of the world’s foremost Contract Bridge players, and an authority and lover of the horseracing industry. You will not recognize the names of any of the other actors in this French/ Moroccan joint film production, but that makes it all the more intriguing.

“Rock the Casbah” runs for 1hr 40 minutes, has subtitles, and is rated M for mature audiences. Membership of the Film Club continues to increase, and is now in the thirties. You should join!

Eight films remain in the year’s program if you include the December “President’s Pick” for members, and the cost of membership is now only $42.

Some great movies are still to hit the screen on the last Sunday of each month at 4pm. Membership can be organized at Bingara Visitor Information Centre, or at the Roxy before each screening.

See you at the movies!

John Wearne