Hollywood goes to desert

Home to some of the biggest film studios in Africa, the small Moroccan town of Ouarzazate has welcomed Dino de Laurentiis, Cinecittà and Hollywood stars. While mega productions employ thousands, the young king Mohammed VI wishes to boost Morocco internationally. It took time after 9/11 and the terror attack in Casablanca before the Western film crews started to consider that it was safe to return to shoot in Northern Africa. The royal palace has offered gendarmerie to safeguard the crews as well as military equipment to decorate the sets. We traveled to Ouarzazate to explore how the boom was back in the sand flats. “People here are no longer interested in jobs that are being paid at Moroccan level. They prefer idle life until the next shoot begins”, explained Hussein Zahri at CLA studios, a man who says his life was changed by The Gladiator.
Published in Helsingin Sanomat in 2006.

photo by david molina pelegrín