Yasmine Benkiran: “With Reines, I imagined a feminist figure with whom I would have liked to identify as a teenager.  »

Yasmine Benkiran: “With Reines, I imagined a feminist figure with whom I would have liked to identify as a teenager. »

This first feature follows a woman who escapes from prison to retrieve her daughter before taking the driver of a truck hostage. A flamboyant character who stands out in Moroccan cinema

How is your heroine born and the thrilling adventures way Thelma and Louise what will she experience?

Yasmine Benkiran: My first desire was to break with naturalistic and social cinema. To propose an alternative. This involves a claimed mix of genres, between escape film, comedy, fantasy and even cartoon. But also by a heroine, Zineb who goes out of the box in every sense of the word. Zineb is the very first character that I had in mind but also the one who, through her energy, through her ability to constantly create danger, will set the tone, the rhythm of the film. When I was younger, in Morocco, when I went to the cinema to see Arab films, I lacked this type of feminist figure. Examples that I could relate to. I also wrote Reines thinking about young women who are the age I was then. With this idea that it is her complexity that makes Zineb so inspiring.

Did it take you a long time to find the one who was going to play her? Or Nisrin Erradi, exceptional from start to finish, immediately emerged as the character in your script?

Do you want the truth? This is the one that arrived last! (laughs) My casting director suggested that I give her a tryout for the role of the truck driver. But I didn't see her at all for this role. But as Nisrin is a star in Morocco, I am made to understand that it is impossible for me not to receive her. I make the effort but in a tense climate. I don't want her to be there and as she knows, she doesn't want to be there either. Except that in front of his slightly aggressive, irreverent, insolent side, something clicked for me. I want to see her as Zineb. So I ask him to do a scene. It only takes 30 seconds for her to know the text by heart and instantly, she takes me into areas that I had absolutely not considered for Zineb. It takes me out of my comfort zone. I see that we can create things together. And from there, we will gradually get to know each other, by seeing each other regularly, by having coffee together. It's going to take a while before I let myself be completely convinced and since she's not used to it, I think she liked being challenged like this.

How did you work together?

I showed him films. To start with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest for the explosive and extremely endearing side of his role. It also went through a lot of rehearsals with three people. I don't really believe in improvisation. We can do it if our name is Kechiche and we have months of work ahead of you. But that was not our case! The filming was a steamroller with a lot of very technical scenes: chases, stunts and if everything hadn't been prepared, we would never have gotten there! We also had to know if the trio was working. We reviewed the entire film over ten days to get to know each other and trust each other.

In the end, what impressed you the most about her?

His playing range is quite extraordinary. I saw her in Adam deliver a partition exactly the opposite of that of Queens. She took this film elsewhere while remaining faithful to the heroine I had dreamed of.

Queens. By Yasmine Benkiran. With Nisrin Erradi, Nisrine Benchara, Rayhan Guaran… Duration: 1h23. Released May 15, 2024

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