Flying like a Bird

El Mahdi Lyoubi


After finishing circus school, seven friends from Salé decide to start their own troupe: the Colokolos. To escape from the ghetto, they choose to focus on seesaw routines, which allow them to propel themselves to a height of about ten metres. These aerobatics quickly attract the attention of foreign promoters, but after each tour, the return to Salé disappoints the Colokolos, as at home they lack recognition, a space to rehearse and a performance venue. In the spring of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic causes the cancellation of their European tour, the troupe loses their main source of income and the privileged creative moments that unite them. The charismatic leader of the Colokolos decides to move away, and the others start weighing their options. The future of the troupe now rests squarely on the shoulders of its youngest and most gifted member Hamza. His exceptional skill would allow him to perform solo, but he is fundamentally attached to the Colokolo family and their message of hope. What will Hamza decide? Are the others prepared to follow?

1st feature

Hicham Falah

Director’s statement

By accompanying the journey of the Colokolos, with Flying Like a Bird I seek to sketch a portrait of a generation of citizen-artists that emerged at the beginning of 2010, as well as a picture of the territory we all come from: Salé. This former city of privateers has become a sprawling suburb, an Islamist stronghold whose name has become synonymous with crime in the rest of Morocco. But for us, the popular districts of Salé are first and foremost the cradle of an urban, musical, choreographic, and visual culture, which has retained a freedom of spirit that links us to our pirate ancestors. In the end, Flying Like a Bird will be a testament to the difficulty that a group like the Colokolos undergoes in order to remain faithful to its values in a society that is paralysed by social conventions and that favours material success – the difficulty of going beyond individual interests and maintaining their faith in a collective goal — “Creating a Circus for the People.”


El Mahdi Lyoubi
El Mahdi Lyoubi

Born in 1992 in Salé, El Mahdi Lyoubi started his artistic career writing rap lyrics, but soon found his rhymes needed to be coupled with images to make them resonate. In the camera, he found a tool that both suits him and allows him to question reality. His interest in politics and social movements in Morocco drew him to documentary filmmaking. Lyoubi began audio-visual studies in Rabat before working as a photographer and a cameraman for online media. Since 2017, he has been studying Documentary Filmmaking at the University of Aix-Marseille. In 2018, he directed the short film Qui fout le zbeul?, which had its premiere at the Festival Cinéma du Réel in Paris as part of the FEMIS Summer University programme.

Hicham Falah
Hicham Falah

Hicham Falah was born in Casablanca in 1970. A graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure Louis Lumière, he has directed two short films and around thirty documentaries for television. Since 2008, he has been the artistic director of film events including the Agadir International Documentary Festival, which organises training and artistic support programmes for emerging African filmmakers; the FIDADOC Documentary Hive, a pan-African writing residency; and the Agadir Produire au Sud workshop. Falah enhances the development of select projects through his production company Cinéma Salama with the hope of creating a vibrant documentary film incubation programme appropriate to the scale of a vast Saharan region.

Total budget

€200 000

Financing secured

€15 000

Partners attached

La Ruche documentaire du FIDADOC (writing residency, November 2019), Les rencontres professionnelles du Festival National du Film de Tanger (best pitch, March 2020), Société Civile des Auteurs Multimédias SCAM (Brouillon d'un rêve grant, July 2020)

Shooting period and locations

Summer and autumn 2021, Salé and other Moroccan cities, France

Expected delivery

Autumn 2022

Looking for

Funds (public and private, national and international), co-producers, broadcasters, international distributors,  artistic collaborators (music, graphics), expertise  (community-building, crowd-funding, impact campaigns)

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