Contemporary World Cinema

Much Loved

Nabil Ayouch

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Four sex workers turn to each other for support as they struggle to survive the corrupt and dangerous flesh markets of Marrakesh, in this hard-hitting docudrama from Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch.

Nabil Ayouch's sixth feature delves with honesty and compassion into an underworld where love is for sale, telling the story of the women who work at lavish orgiastic parties in the bars and nightclubs of Marrakesh.

Much Loved masterfully unveils the melancholy and solitude of sex workers Noha (Loubna Abidar), Randa (Asmaa Lazrak), Soukaina (Halima Karaouane), and Hlima (Sara Elmhamdi Elalaoui). Offering pleasure and fantasy to rich Saudis, Emiratis, and European tourists, these women are loved by no one — but together they form a makeshift family, sharing their everyday woes and joys and protecting one another. They support their families, who are ashamed of them; they bribe the nightclub bouncers, the bar owners, and the police; and they are at the centre of the nightlife's underground economy, dangerously close to the heart of its violence.

Ayouch derived the story from testimonies that he collected from some 200 real-life sex workers in the span of a year, and his shooting style makes use of intimate close-ups to compound the film's hard-hitting realism. Boldly and evocatively transgressive, Much Loved marks a milestone in the emancipation of Arab cinema from the prevailing hypocrisy and prejudice shrouding the issue of prostitution. Ayouch's feat is multi-fold; not only has he defied censorship and self-censorship, but he has honoured the resilience and dignity of women casually cast away from society.

CONTEMPORARY WORLD SPEAKERSRon Levi, Deputy Director of the Munk School and Director of the Master of Global Affairs Degree, is an expert on how we respond to crime and violence in a global context. He will speak about Much Loved in an extended Q&A session following the second screening of the film.Special thanks to the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.

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