Truth as Social Activism - Reality as Creative Freedom

Tarik is an actor, social activist, and cinema enthusiast who studied and worked in Paris for 10 years before coming back to Morocco, his motherland, and founding the organization Save Cinemas in Morocco in 2007. SCIM is an organization that seeks the "promotion and enhancement of cinema in all its forms as well as the safeguarding of Moroccan cultural heritage." Tarik works to rebuild old cinemas such as Les amis du Ciné Théâtre Palace in Marrakech, where he holds festivals and art expositions to share art and culture with the people of Morocco.


Excerpts From the Interview:


Jazmine: Tell me something that you believe to be true about reality and existence.

Tarik: That’s a big question. La réalité… For me, I think the reality is that you are here at this time and you act at this time. Reality for me…it doesn’t make sense because there is no reflection when you are in reality because you are living step by step, instant by instant. Each second, you are in the reality of something. So the truth of living, of breathing, of everything, is a reality. Reality for me is not a concept. It’s a definition of your existence. You breathe, you do, you ask, you speak, each thing that you do in this moment creates the reality.

After this you have the reality of the system. So the system, I mean the economic system, built by man to control man, is one kind of fake reality. Everyone is part of the masses,  and they want us to follow something, to be like something, to believe in something. They want to bring us into their reality. And that’s the point when the people become slaves – when they lose their reality and way of living, and they are starting to come to the reality of a group, of an ideology, of a system. Then the problems happen.

So for me, all my life I’ve tried to create my reality with a lot of independence. I created Save Cinemas in Morocco, which for me it’s a synonym of freedom. It’s a part of freedom. It’s my reality. I feel free when I do this because I know that there is a need. There is a need that I aspire to change. So when you believe in change and you see the reality of the culture is not good in Morocco, you try to change it. So this is my goal. For me the reality is some kind of freedom. You have to be free.

Jazmine: So as I understand it, for you, there are the two realities – one that is the individual reality, what each person is doing at each given moment,  and then you have the group, social reality which is shaped by political and economic leaders?

Tarik: Yes, that’s right.

Jazmine: Given this, do you believe that you have total and complete freedom in what you do, all the time? Or does the system ever limit you in certain ways?

Tarik: Honestly, I have freedom of thinking because I do what I think. I feel free because I don’t live for someone else and I’m very independent. The only one thing that makes me not free is money, because money is part of the system. Money was created to control people. So you have no choice. But I’ve learned to do things without money, and I’ve developed a new philosophy about how to create an event, how to manage things without a lot of money. Look, I’ve understood one thing in the five years: Money is not the key to creativity. That’s what I learned. Money is like a tool for society, you know? So this is the thing sometimes. But I do what I do and I try to be free. 

Jazmine: You said before that you have a new philosophy regarding money and your project? What is your new philosophy?

Tarik: Well, here everybody wants to do big things. You know? Everybody wants to have things, to get money, to buy a car, to have something… material. My new philosophy is to think small, but with a strong motivation, you know?  I also tend to think a lot about the concept and the people – because what do we forget here? We forget how to impact the people.  […] Now I’m thinking about developing  something that will touch the people and to create something really basic, not too big, where we don’t need a lot of money, and to be more open to the creation. The creativity to me is a part of freedom so when you start to think and create you are free. You can say that you are free.

So I’ve had a lot of experiences and I know a lot of people, but my philosophy for me is to be focused on what you feel in your heart and try to have patience, to not worry too much, to not think that you need a lot of money, and to use the most simple way possible. I try to explain to people that what I do is not something ordinary, its something for the country.  I’m not doing this just for me. Me, I’m nothing, you know? Just a mediator.


Jazmine: So you mentioned that everybody is living within their own reality, everyone has their own projects and their own way of doing things, but what do you think is the hardest part about everyone doing something different? Is it difficult to convince people to jump on board with your project? Your reality?

Tarik: It’s really hard, you know? Sure it’s hard. For example, in Europe and in America it’s easier, because people are well-educated and they know that the people can’t live without art. But in Morocco it’s completely different. If the children want to do music or something, it’s really hard when you have parents who don’t encourage you. It’s the culture, you know? Especially in Morocco, the parents are everything.  There is no money for places of culture, there are no theaters, there are no cinemas. So it’s really hard when you speak to people and tell them you want to do something cultural. They say the cinema is dead, we will never win in art, and the life of the musician is hard, and there is no debate. So for young people here it’s really hard. But if these kinds of places exist, it would be a platform for young people to express themselves and to convince their parents to come support them in their cause. Because there is no evidence for people. What I do is not evidence for them. For me, there is evidence. For me, it’s my true reality that I’m doing something for my country. But for the people it’s not a priority. 


"We have to start a real community of art and that is what I am waiting for here. It’s to create a real revolution of art. We need this. It’s our only choice. If we don’t have the revolution of art, this country will never change. Never. We will live like sheep, following the system. "


Jazmine: What is your next step for fighting the system, so to speak? For overcoming the limitations of the government or with money.

Tarik: The next step is to start something here, like a laboratory. To make something underground, a cultural laboratory in Morocco, for many things. It has never happened before- to take all the cultural buildings and reopen it. We don’t have the mentality of  ‘reopening’, instead we usually want to make things totally new. But to do something first with the old and make it new, make it modern is not yet…well the young generation is starting to do these things. The first step is to have a place for artists - a place to be, a place to come and visit.  That’s the best solution, because when you have a place you can imagine a lot of things. And we want to share it with people, to explain why we are asking people to save cinemas in Morocco. It is not only for cinemas, it's to explain that we need cultural places. Save Cinemas in Morocco has a strong message. There are not a lot of people who understand this. The people who understand this have told us “You know that you do more than save cinemas in Morocco.” And that’s gratification that we have interesting people who understand our fight. And that’s true, Save Cinemas in Morocco is just the pretext, we are fighting to save and preserve our culture, to bring education to our people, to create dialogue between communities and societies. Cinemas are an opportunity for understanding. It’s the key to peace. You cannot understand people if you don’t see the stories of their lives, how they live. So the cinemas are a strong powerful means of development here in Morocco. 


"  I wish that these young people, when they say they have a dream, that they would really dream it. In Morocco, we don’t have a dream. There is an American dream, but I hope that one day there will be a Moroccan dream. That someone will believe that they can do something for their country, build something, create something."


Jazmine:  How do you live and experience the world around you?

Tarik: Honestly, I enjoy everything about life. I like everything. Sights, sounds, nature. Because I listen to everything, I watch the sky, I look at the sun, I try to get inspired by everything – flowers. And I take things as they come.  For me the experience of the world is to be human and to feel good about what the universe gives us, because it gives everything. It depends on if people believe in God or not, but I believe in God and I know that everything happens for a reason. Everything. Nature, life. Sometimes you meet people and you don’t know why you meet them, but they bring you something, maybe emotional or keys to reflection in your life, you know? So yes. For me, I want to live like a child, try to stay like a child…this is my motto. I want to always think like a child with spontaneity and everything. And that’s why I try to stay young when I’m doing my work.