Death For Sale

There’s a solid chance that you haven’t heard of most of these movies. Yet they exist – out there somewhere as a thorn in the side of movie fans trying to see as much as possible. Nuggets of potential waiting to be picked up from the movie orphanage by a distributor and given a warm home with cup holders in every seat. The European Film Market is fascinating for that reason and for the way people attend it. Tickets this year were around $600, but that’s a reasonable price for companies sending representatives trying to find the next moneymaker for their company or the hot movie to bring to their festival. That means screenings come complete with people on cell phones and unimpressed buyers walking out after ten minutes to hustle next door to see if the other movie playing has any promise to it. It’s a bizarre way to watch movies, but it makes a kind of sense given the massive size of the movie list compared to the tiny amount of time to see everything. There were upwards of 675 movies in the EFM this year, all of them with their own selling points. Here are the 87 most interesting-sounding with descriptions found in the official catalog. For the most part, I haven’t seen these movies (and didn’t even know about many of them until the Berlin Film Festival), but they all have something going for them that should earn them a spot on your radar.

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In Death For Sale, the three best friends that anyone could ever have falter under the weight of their petty crime lives and the economic reality facing twenty-somethings in Morocco. They’re lost youth, scumming their way on the streets and in the nightclubs without any kind of direction. Writer/director Fauozi Bensaïdi‘s story picks up just as the group is beginning to diverge. Malik (Fehd Benchemsi) has fallen hard for a prostitute called Dounia (Imane Elmechrafi) despite her status as forbidden fruit. The naive Soufiane (Fouad Labied) hatches a plan to steal a rich girl’s purse that has profound, unintended consequences. The hardened Allal (Mouhcine Malzi) is determined to become a big fish in the suddenly empty drug-dealing pond. Everything should work out fine, right? Like most films from the Arab world, this one deals with 1) what it means to be a man and 2) crime. Yet, even within a sea of sameness, the film has its own statements to make and its own way of making them. Most directly, with a strong visual eye and a serpentine story where chasing dreams leaves its inhabitants out of breath standing right where they started.

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