A Film Experiment

The silver screen breeds mythologies on places, Casablanca has been no stranger to this distortive effect. The Maghreb has been the playing field of European imagination—obsession even—as well as colonization for a very long time. The violent, yet silent, creation of Casablanca lies now hidden within its urban tissue. An aggressive playing field of transformative energies clasps this former colonial capital and redefines it, yet again, and over and over it seems, as a “modern” urban center. Older layers whose once-foreseen use is obsolete wither constantly, others are integrated into the new developments to a state of being hardly legible anymore. Architecture slaves away to reinvent the image of Casablanca.

The goal of this semester was to break or recreate an urban myth by capturing the transformation of the city. We asked ourselves what could be the visual and even research potentials of film, and how responsible is the medium itself in the creation of myth? How can we capture at the same time the ordinary and the extraordinary urban qualities of Casablanca?

The semester involved a collaboration with Swiss film director Christoph Schaub and shooting took place over a period of two weeks in Casablanca, 15-29.03.2015. The result are five 15 minute documentaries on various sites: the urban periphery, large housing developments, the new tramline and the coastline. Together they create a specific portrait of the changing city.

Prof. Roger Diener, Prof. Marcel Meili, Christoph Schaub
Vesna Jovanovic, Christian Mueller Inderbitzin, Mathias Gunz, Liisa Gunnarsson
Group work in Basel and filming on location in Casablanca, Morocco

SIDI MOUMEN States of Dwelling from ETH Studio Basel on Vimeo.

Sidi Moumen is a district in the periphery of Casablanca and has become a point of focus for real-estate development. Large-scale housing projects are producing the logements économiques (economical housing): planned to maximize gain and minimize costs, they become dwellings of big uniformity and repetition. Once appropriated by the people, they undergo a process of adaptation, from the purely economical mass dwelling to an individual place of living.

Film crew: Adrian Brunold, Jonatan Egli, Micha Ringger Technical assistance: Simon Gutknecht. Teaching assistance: Liisa Gunnarsson, Mathias Gunz, Vesna Jovanovic, Christian Müller Inderbitzin. Language assistance: Asmaa Dehbi, Vesna Jovanovic. Local support in Casablanca: Laure Augereau, Ilyass Chatoui, Yousef Barka, Benjellound Hakim

TRAMWAY CASABLANCA Le fil rouge de la métropole from ETH Studio Basel on Vimeo.

Almost three years ago, on 12.12.12, Casablanca’s first tramway departed on its very first journey through the bustling streets of this African metropolis. Its executor, Casatransport, constructed the considerable 31km tram tracks, street reconstruction and refurbishment, as well as the plantation of 4,000 trees in an astounding two year period. This film depicts the impact of this project, travelling alongside the tram through the city and interacting with the many characters that are now connected by this impressive, yet subtle piece of infrastructure.

Film crew: Theo Glauser, Zlatina Paneva, Yu Ma. Technical assistance: Simon Gutknecht. Teaching assistance: Liisa Gunnarsson, Mathias Gunz, Vesna Jovanovic, Christian Müller Inderbitzin. Language assistance: Asmaa Dehbi, Vesna Jovanovic. Local support in Casablanca: Laure Augereau, Yassine Bouzoubaâ, Ilyass Chatoui, Casa Aménagement, Casa Tramway, Casatransport.

GOULSSA Remaining in between from ETH Studio Basel on Vimeo.

Goulssa is an informal settlement on the outskirts of Casablanca, built illegally on former private agricultural property without any building permits. Today, new housing projects surround it, generating a source of social tension. This film captures the way of life and self-organization within the village, as well as the unease expressed by the residents about the uncertainty of its future.

Film crew: Leonie Lieberherr, Meret Meier, Semian Neurohr. Technical assistance: Simon Gutknecht. Teaching assistance: Liisa Gunnarsson, Mathias Gunz, Vesna Jovanovic, Christian Müller Inderbitzin. Language assistance: Asmaa Dehbi, Vesna Jovanovic. Local support in Casablanca: Laure Augereau, Ilyass Chatoui, Soraya El Kahlaoui, Amine Taha Radi , Hicham Al-Asri.

MADINAT ERRAHMA Resettling the Bidonvilles from ETH Studio Basel on Vimeo.

The town of Madinat Errahma on the edge of Grand Casablanca houses 140,000 people from twelve different bidonvilles and is built by its inhabitants. But is such a new satellite able to reconstruct the urban reality that already existed in the bidonvilles? A short portrait about a young city, its planners and its inhabitants.

Film crew: Alessio de Gottardi, Pablo Vuillemin, Luca Bazelli. Technical assistnace: Simon Gutknecht. Teaching assistance: Liisa Gunnarsson, Mathias Gunz, Vesna Jovanovic, Christian Müller Inderbitzin. Language assistance: Asmaa Dehbi, Vesna Jovanovic. Local support in Casablanca: Laure Augereau, Hamza Fasley.

LA CORNICHE A Place of Leisure from ETH Studio Basel on Vimeo.

The Corniche has always been Casablanca’s leisure area. From the first Beach Clubs in the 1930’s, built during the French protectorate, up through the recently-built shopping malls and leisure resorts, an enormous development has taken place. Having left many traces along the coast the historic layers of leisure, their architectural and social boarders and structures are still visible and undergoing transformation today.

Film crew: Nicole Zehnder, Orlando Arner, Dennis Häusler. Technical assistance: Simon Gutknecht. Teaching assistance: Liisa Gunnarsson, Mathias Gunz, Vesna Jovanovic, Christian Müller Inderbitzin. Local support in Casablanca: Laure Augereau, Ilyass Chatoui, Albane de Linares.

Copyright ETH Studio Basel, 2015.