Years ago, I clipped an article about Cinémathèque de Tanger in Morocco and sent it to a film archivist friend and pen pal, Taz. Many months later, Taz took a trip to Tangiers and, to my surprise, my next care package from her included a pin from the Cinémathèque! She had been able to go to the film center and get a behind-the-scenes tour in which she saw old movie posters and heard about the types of acquisitions the center hoped to grow with. Her tip: “We were lucky to get in on the fly, but I’m sure they’d be able to make it even more special with advanced notice.”
Cinémathèque de Tanger is exemplary both as a focal point for discussing, viewing, and sharing film treasures and as an archive (films from Gabriel Veyre, Ahmed Bouanani, Hicham Falah, Mohamed Chrif Tribak, and many more). Cinémathèque de Tanger has been a pioneer in offering screenings for films rarely seen in Morocco and preserving and promoting North African and Arabian cinema. They have set the groundwork for other film organizations to work with Moroccan authorities, censors, and film vendors and have built collaborations with cultural institutions around the world.
The Cinémathèque is housed in a beautiful, old movie theater that is a natural gathering point and welcomes people to the archive. If you happen to be in Morocco, stop by the cinema and visit their cafe, which co-founder and director Yto Barrada says has taken on it’s own local importance, “Something we didn’t anticipate is the way our café has been taken over by the local teenagers and young adults who seem to spend all of their free time there flirting, playing the guitar, singing, using the free Internet, nursing a Coca Cola, hitting on our interns and very occasionally going to see a movie.”
Images from Pete, Cinémathèque de Tanger, and Frieze.