WHICH AUDIENCE(S) FOR WHICH CINEMA(S)?

“The public has an appetite for everything that touches the imagination, everything that is far from reality and that creation allows us”. Steven Spielberg.

Steven Spielberg is probably correct in his assertion, in general. The only question mark is that the audience is not uniform. The public is multiple, in the sense that has pushed sociologists and researchers to list the cinema public in several categories. Thus, the cinema has audiences that vary according to the variety of genres, schools and cinematographic styles. In general, there is the general public, with its various socio-professional categories, and the public of moviegoers. In any case, cinema being an art of sharing in public, it allows readings, judgments and comments without well-defined borders between erudite or profane discourses. In addition, with the development of technological means, a large part of individual and collective culture today is largely cinematographic. Today’s culture is overflowing with multiple screens that crisscross us everywhere to interfere in our daily lives.

The sociology of audiences and reception is one of the most prominent branches of the sociology of cinema. The diversity of cinema audiences and their practices vary according to the conditions of attendance at places where films are shown and consumed in each country. As far as Morocco is concerned, we were for a long time, because of colonization, consumers of images produced elsewhere and which in no way concern our culture and our way of life. It was only with independence that we gradually began to produce our own images. From there, we had really started to constitute ourselves as cinema audiences, then as cinephiles. And since then we have evolved on quicksand. We have gone, roughly, from a time when we were “audiences in search of films” to a time marked by the presence of “films in search of audiences”.

AUDIENCES IN SEARCH OF FILMS

Until the 1980s, distribution and exhibition being dominated by foreign companies, we – we Moroccans – were looking for films which speak to us, which speak our languages ​​and which reflect our ways of life. Failing that, we have long been forced to consume the foreign films imposed on us. Then, as time went by, moviegoers organized themselves into film clubs to be able to see and discuss particular films offered by circuits outside of commercial distribution. As for the various categories of the general public in search of Moroccan films or films outside the dominant networks, they will have to wait a long time before seeing, gradually, some Moroccan films that some distributors and exhibitors have started to program in cinemas. .

Little by little, with the evolution of national production, Moroccan films have won over large categories of cinema audiences. It was the golden age of cinema in Morocco. Cinema attendance had reached a record figure of more than 40 million admissions per year; and national cinema was able to establish itself in the regular programming of cinemas. Unfortunately, several new conditions, including the proliferation of satellite channels, new broadcasting technologies, piracy, etc., ended up reducing, in a few years, cinema audiences to a trickle.

FILMS WITHOUT AUDIENCE

Thus, we have experienced a very paradoxical situation. We found ourselves with a national film production in constant development, going from the production of a few films to twenty films a year, while the public gradually deserted the cinemas which closed at an alarming rate. We have thus gone, in a few years, from 250 cinemas to around thirty today!

Film consumption patterns have changed radically, while production, due to the continuity of the National Production Aid Fund, is still following its normal course, as if nothing had happened. This paradoxical situation comes from the fact that the producers are not held by the throat by a need for profitability, as long as the reimbursement of the Advance on Receipts remains purely fictitious and formal, and that the films are, in their majority, produced entirely by the Advance on Recipes kitty.

Today, therefore, we find ourselves with films without an audience, some of which are not even released in cinemas, stored in their DCP hard drives, just circulating in a few festivals which often screen them in non-professional technical conditions. And when they come out in some theaters, they are often removed from the poster before the end of the first week, for lack of spectators. As for film clubs, let’s not talk about them, they hardly exist anymore, with a few exceptions that are only active occasionally!

This prompts us to seriously ask ourselves the crucial question which requires urgent answers: until when are we going to continue to practice the policy of the ostrich, avoiding seeing things face to face and seeking, in consultation with the professionals they are still interested in their profession (!), adequate and rational solutions likely to revive and revitalize the national cinematographic sector. This is the only way to stop its sinking.

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