Sofia El Khyari


In Casablanca under the French protectorate, paths cross and diverge. Warda loves to draw but, in her modest home, her talent provides little more than an escape. She discovers the seventh art thanks to her lover, Hassan, a young militant close to a network of resistance fighters based at the famous Shehrazade Cinema. At the same time, Boulboul, a boy fascinated by the silver screen, buys himself a camera and starts shooting the very first Moroccan films with his friends. Gradually, Casablanca became Dar El Beida again: it reclaimed its image, laid the foundations for its cinema, took refuge in dreams and spread its wings towards independence and infinite freedom.

1st feature

Oneiris Animation (Morocco) 

Director’s statement

At the end of the dark days of colonialism, Casablanca was home to around 50 cinemas that remained under French control. However, as liberation approached and the first Moroccan films began to be made, the first cinema built by a Moroccan activist opened its doors. This was the Cinéma Shehrazade, which I often heard about because my grandfather worked there for many years. I have never been there, however: the Shehrazade, like many of Casablanca’s cinemas, closed down. Only the birds live in this now disused space. This nostalgia prompted me to write this film project. Inspired by my family history, I want to tell the story of how the beginnings of Moroccan cinema are intrinsically linked to the country’s process of liberation, and – beyond the Hollywood representation of Michael Curtiz’s film – to depict the Casablanca of the 1940s and 1950s in a film that is both romantic and deeply cinephilic.


Sofia El Khyari
Sofia El Khyari

Born in Casablanca, Sofia El Khyari is an artist, director, and animator. She studied cultural management in Paris, where she also taught herself animation. She then obtained a master’s degree in animation from the Royal College of Art in London. Her work has been acquired, screened, and exhibited by prestigious institutions such as the Institut du Monde Arabe, the Cinémathèque Française, and the Musée du Quai-Branly. Her short films have been screened at and won awards from a number of major international festivals, including the Locarno Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival and the Annecy International Animation Film Festival.

Oneiris Animation

Oneiris Animation is the first Moroccan production company dedicated to independent auteur animation. It was founded by multi-award-winning director Sofia El Khyari, who has spent the last 10 years working between London and Paris, and aims to develop partnerships and the animation sector in Morocco. El Khyari is also the first Moroccan director to obtain designation as a professional animation director from the Moroccan Film Centre.

Total budget

€2 000 000

Shooting period and locations

2025, Casablanca (Morocco)

Expected delivery


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