Who says Muslims can’t be funny? That’s the tagline for a project by a French team that has produced 18 short movies in the last two years that take a humourous look at being a Muslim in France. With 14 million hits on its website, the project has attracted attention but it has had trouble moving into mainstream television.
The Bordeaux-based filmmakers - known collectively as A part ça, tout va bien (Besides that, everything’s fine) - have taken on the tricky subject as the French government has been debating secularism and the role of Islam in society.
The project was the brainchild of film director Zangro - an atheist - who approached Zaouri two years ago. Zaouri, who had his own one-man show (and still does), says he was not interested at first.
“I said, 'No, leave me alone; I don’t want to touch it.' The subject of Islam for me was too sensitive in France,” he says. “Then I asked myself: Why don't I want to laugh about what scares me? I realised that dedramatising something is to appropriate it. If you laugh about it, you can appropriate it. So I said OK, let's start.”
The first sketches were filmed in Morocco. Then they started making movies from their home base in the suburbs of the western French city of Bordeaux.