Pirates of Salé
Morocco, France, UK, United Arab Emirates
Producer: Hilary Durman, Merieme Addou
Production Company: Redbird
Cirque Shems’y sits on the edge of one of Morocco’s poorest slums, and hundreds of teenagers come to audition each year, desperately hoping for a new future in the circus. The handful who are accepted embark on a tough journey of transformation, learning to live independently, express themselves, challenge convention, and embrace a totally alien concept: artistic freedom.
Pirates of Salé is a character-based observational film that opens up the magical world of the circus through the compelling stories of the young people working to create a new future for themselves and to bring the grand spectacle of circus to Morocco and its people. Hajar is a talented aerialist who lived on the streets until she joined the circus; Imed is a dazzling performer who sees circus as a way to challenge corruption in Morocco; Rizlan has finally won a place after four long years of trying; and Abd’Ali, the youngest and a dreamer, who now has two families – Cirque Shems’y, and nine brothers and sisters to support at home.
Jawad, the charismatic director, has a driving mission: to shake up Moroccan society and to develop a 100% Moroccan performance group who can shine on the international stage. He will accept nothing less than perfection. Pirates of Salé follows Jawad and the young performers from audition through punishing hours of rehearsal to the opening night of Cirque Shemsy’s first major show, when the eyes of the world will be on them.
This is a film about being young in a place with few opportunities and daring to dream.
Born in Morocco, Merieme Addou lives and works in Rabat as freelance correspondent for Radio D-W. She is also a Producer for Camino Media, a Moroccan production company based in Rabat. From 2005 - 2008, Merieme worked as assistant to the BBC correspondent in Morocco. She has worked as a correspondent for Kuwait TV and an AP for Al Jazeera International. She has also acted as a freelance Producer for ADTV, Qatar TV, BBC 2 (The Changing Face of Islam), BBC Radio 4, Time Magazine, the Financial Times, BBC World, SABC, National Geographic Magazine, Fox News, CNN, and Bloomberg.
Rosa Rogers has directed a range of documentaries for leading UK broadcasters including Channel 4 and the BBC, which have been shown around the world. Prize winning films include: The Greatest Show on Earth, the story of a deaf dancer who performs in the Rio Carnival; Dragon People, a young photographer’s journey through modern China; and Back to Bombay in which a British Indian woman travels to India to meet her family for the first time. She has twice been a finalist in the One World Media Awards. She has just finished editing her feature documentary in Morocco, Casablanca Calling, which explores the lives and work of Morocco’s first female Muslim leaders, the Morchidat. Casablanca Calling is a collaboration with Merieme Addou and Hilary Durman and is due for release in autumn 2013. Rosa is a camerawoman as well as director and has filmed most of Pirates of Salé herself, working in close collaboration with Merieme.