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Ayoub Khanir, from Morocco to America with cinema at heart

Ayoub Khanir, from Morocco to America with cinema at heart

After traveling to the four corners of the globe, filming and acting in film projects, Moroccan-American actor and director Ayoub Khanir will soon set up his camera in Morocco, where he plans to shoot his first two feature films. During the Marrakech International Film Festival (FIFM) held from November 11 to 19, 2022, he was present to promote his list of projects. In addition to these two opuses, he plans “television films, short films, a small series and another long film”, said Yabiladi, who expresses his desire to submit proposals to the Moroccan Cinema Center. (CMC).

First picture Called “children of our lands” in poetic sense. It takes place in an isolated village in the Middle Atlas. In the making, the second, “North”, deals with migration from the angle of a thriller. “We envision the North as a dream destination for migrants. That’s where the title came from. “The story of a detective who investigates a body washed ashore on the coast of Tangier,” he told us. Thanks to his wide range of readings, Ayoub Khanir is familiar with migration drama in the Mediterranean region, particularly between Morocco and Spain. “The bodies of migrants are always washed up on African and European beaches. There are nameless squares, inside cemeteries, anonymous and numbered graves, these are the graves of migrants who died at sea. The border level is different. I was very affected by learning what is happening in northern Morocco and southern Spain,” he said. .

In “Nord”, the investigator character always finds these bodies. But one day, he finds traces of bullets in one of them. “This is a story of tragedy for these migrants, but also a story of transportation, of ‘burning’ their identity cards before departure and wearing nothing from their previous lives,” Ayub Kanir tells us again. “My previous work in Japan on my film, ‘Disappeared from Tokyo’, inspired me with dedicated institutions that disappear for a lifetime due to debt, family conflicts or any problems,” he adds.

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Ayoub Kanir in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter / Photo credit: Albert Rousseau

Travel as a source of inspiration for cinema

Ayub Khanir believes that cinema and travel go hand in hand. “I think it is important to travel. This permanent displacement makes it possible to have other perspectives about one’s own origin. A Moroccan citizen goes to live, work, discover other countries, enriches the soul. Looking back to where he came from, he will no longer see things in the same way,” he says. According to him, “whatever the form of this expression is, this person can create something interesting in terms of art and creation”. Worth it,” says the director.

The latter does not come from the world of cinema. He grew up in Casablanca near Boulevard Gandhi. First, his father was a big movie buff. A state engineer in public works, he travels a lot and every time he returns, he brings the best notable movies on VHS. “I grew up in Morocco at a time when theaters were in decline, and all motion was inaccessible on the big screen. This way I was forever marked when I was able to see “Goulag” by Roger Young. We also traveled a lot abroad whenever we had a holiday,” he recalls.

During the same period, cinemas were not very accessible, but Ayub tried his hand at directing, to a certain extent, without realizing that it was a creative exercise. “I used my parents’ camera and shot short scenes, even short films, with my friends at home. Over the weekend, we filmed some kind of thriller, filmed our basketball games, and agreed on what everyone was going to say. It’s like I have the scene in my head, and with each new sequence, we’re cutting a record of the previous record. I enjoyed doing the credits!” He recalls that today as “a person who likes to make experimental cinema”.

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Ayoub Kanir in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter / Photo credit: Albert RousseauAyoub Kanir in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter / Photo credit: Albert Rousseau

The director then went to high school in Spain, where his parents had settled. From Madrid, he settled in Los Angeles, then Miami, New York, Los Angeles. In Casablanca, he played for seven years with the Wydad basketball club, then in the national junior team, before moving to Spain, where he was part of the main team of the American school Madrid, which led him to travel a lot. Different contexts and from an early age.

Another part of his youth takes place in Florida, where he graduated from the University of Miami in 2005 with a degree in management and finance. He also works at banking institutions, particularly Bank of America, in addition to internships at investment firms. In Tenerife. During the economic crisis and recession of 2009, in the hellish environment of white-collar workers and golden boys, Ayub changed course to focus on cinema. In addition to her acting training, she holds a degree in graphic design and art direction.

Ayoub Kanir in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter / Photo credit: Albert RousseauAyoub Kanir in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter / Photo credit: Albert Rousseau

In 2007, he graduated from the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute in Los Angeles with a degree in film directing and production. This is how he enters the cinema through the door. Before producing music videos and short films, he was first hired by an advertising agency in Miami. His reunion with a friend from his studies led him to rediscover Los Angeles from a creative angle.

A royal recognition

During this period of his career, Ayub Khanir invested in graphic novels and comics, which led to the project. Comic strip on Green ParadeIn 2015, King Mohammed VI earned him a decoration for wisdom. Taking pride in this award, which he still remembers as the best of his life, he dedicated to his father the artistic education of the young prodigy from childhood.

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Ayoub Kanir in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter / Photo credit: Albert RousseauAyoub Kanir in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter / Photo credit: Albert Rousseau

Ayub Khanir says he doesn’t regret changing his career from finance to cinema. “The financial side of this new life is not always sustainable. You have to submit requests for support dozens of times before you can make a film from an idea. You have to be patient for years during design. But when you create ideas and conceptualize, it’s wonderful. You feel alive,” he says. Director.

He is in his memory Recently shot in Russia “Totally stunning, in the midst of nature, in an isolated, never-before-seen new living environment, it facilitated discovery and stimulation of creativity”. Every film project, for Ayub Khanir, “lives intensely and humanly at all levels”.