The rapid turnover of our news cycle frequently overlooks much of the news from around the world. The subject matter of Nadir Bouhmouch’s Amussu would likely provide an excellent example of such an event largely overlooked by Western society. In 2011, villagers in the Northern Morocco town of Imider shut down a water pipeline connected to one of Africa’s largest silver mines. Protests have been occurring around the area ever since.
If this is the first you are hearing about the village of Imider, then you are not alone. I too, was introduced to this village through this Amussu. The difficulty with reviewing Bouhmouch’s film stems from my inability to fact check the events being provided. Yet, herein lies the real twist of Amussu. The form of this film is highly unorthodox, and hybridizes a fictionalized lush oasis with the reality of a waterless desert. This is a highly politized statement, and a piece of restorative justice reminiscent of various reclamation project from Indigenous groups across the world. The audience is provided with very little base information about the area and the protests. In a sense, this becomes documentary in its purest form, documenting instead of explaining. The hope is that you may do some digging of your own afterwards (I certainly did).
Bouhmouch’s greatest strength is their cinematography. Shot by the director and Yassin Charak, Amussu is visually stunning. The visual variance on display suggests a strong understanding of craft, as both cinematographers manage to provide variety of different shot types and angles that greatly vary the visual style of the film. While this film may not necessarily provide the raw information some may hope for, the feeling of political justice on display is arguably the film’s intent, and it succeeds.