Director of Moroccan sex worker film 'Much Loved' charged with 'pornography and debauchery'

The film, which lifts the lid on the Moroccan sex industry, has been banned for its 'immoral' portrayal of women

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The Independent Culture

The director and leading actress of controversial Moroccan film Much Loved, which offers a gritty look at the country’s sex industry, have been summoned to court on charges of “pornography, indecency and inciting minors to debauchery.”

Director Nabil Ayouch and actress Loubna Abidar, who plays a "prostitute" in the film, have been asked to defend the allegedly “immoral” content of the movie before a court in Marrakech next month, according to reports from the Moroccan press.

The court summons is the latest in a line of conservative crack-downs on the film from the Moroccan government, which banned its release over alleged “contempt for moral values and the Moroccan woman”. It is believed that no representatives from the government have seen the film yet.

Their decision to ban it was based on two clips leaked on the internet, one of which showed three sex workers in a car speaking about their clients, with one saying she hoped to get “a Saudi Arabian man who is good looking, nice and has a small penis”.

The film also depicts a fumble in a parked van, a failed attempt to achieve an erection, which results in violence, and other scenes of violent sex. An actor playing a homeless boy is also depicted admitting that European men regularly abuse him for sex at £5 a time. 

Some complaints have been received by the Morrocan government about the film, known as Zin Li Fik in Morocco, with some suggestions that it contains pornographic scenes.

Others claim the film gives the illusion that homosexuality, prostitution, trafficking of women and sex tourism is greatly profitable.

Ayouch has said he was “shocked” by the film’s ban, telling The Hollywood Reporter that Much Loved “depicts reality and should have opened a debate instead of being banned”.

“Freedom of speech, freedom in any form of art or creativity, is so important in every society to move forward. Films that talk about important topics, such as prostitution, should not be considered a danger. On the contrary, it’s healthy for a country to be able to look at itself in the mirror,” he said.

Abidar has received death threats for starring as a prostitute in the film. The actress wrote on her Facebook page that she had received an anonymous call to her home phone from an unknown person threatening to kill her.

She has appeared on Moroccan radio to defend her part in the film, saying she was only playing the role of “many prostitutes that exist in Morocco”.

The Moroccan Ministry of Communication refused to fund the production of Much Loved, leaving Ayouch with a small budget to produce the film that went on the debut at Cannes in May.

Opposition to the film has increased concerns about the rising radicalisation of Morocco, which has been known as one of the most liberal Arabic states.

Prostitution is illegal in Morocco, but plays a key part in the country’s thriving sex tourism industry and is the only way for some women to make a living.

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