Casablanca Calling

Morocco’s first female religious leaders set out to change their country in a quiet social revolution.

Casablanca calling 01
Women of the World, Global Voices
Premiere Date
September 14, 2014
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Rogers rosa filmmaker bio

Rosa Rogers

Rosa Rogers has directed a range of documentaries for leading UK broadcasters including Channel 4 and the BBC, and which have been shown around the world. Prize-winning films include: The Greatest Show on Earth, the story of a deaf dancer who performs in the Rio Carnival; Dragon People, a young photographer’s journey through modern China; and Back to Bombay, in which a British Indian woman travels to India to meet her family for the first time. Rogers has twice been a finalist in the One World Media Awards with a single documentary on Gambia in the series World of Difference, and with three films on water, fair trade, and child labor in the series Global Citizenship. In 2009, her documentary Bangladesh – Who Will Pay? as a prizewinner in the World Bank Film Competition. Rogers is currently in post-production with Merieme Addou and Hilary Durman for Pirates of Salé, a feature documentary about the young performers of Morocco’s first professional circus school.

Durman hilary filmmaker bio

Hilary Durman

Hilary Durman is director of Redbird, an independent production company set up in 1992. She has produced documentaries, dramas, and features for BBC, Channel 4, and ITV, winning 3 BAFTAs, and awards from the Royal Television Society, One World Media, Prix Jeunesse, and the Japan Prize. In addition to Casablanca Calling and Pirates of Salé, she produced Special, a drama documentary about autistic teenagers; and Just a Girl from Koof, following the work of Fawzia Koofi in Afghanistan. Her first feature documentary, The Time of Their Lives (BBC Storyville/UKFC), focused on three extraordinary women of 100, and screened at AFI Docs, SXSW, and Sheffield DocFest. Her second feature documentary documentary, Donor Unknown, premiered at Sheffield DocFest and IDFA, won audience awards at Tribeca and AFI Docs, and was broadcast on Independent Lens on PBS.

Other ITVS Films
Donor Unknown
Addou merieme filmmaker bio
Associate Producer

Merieme Addou

Born in Morocco, Merieme Addou graduated from Mohammed V University with a degree in Law. She lives and works in Rabat as freelance correspondent for Radio D-W and a producer for Camino Media, a Moroccan production company based in the city. Merieme has worked as assistant to the BBC correspondent in Morocco, as a correspondent for Kuwait TV, and an AP for Al Jazeera International. She has also acted as a freelance Producer for ADTV, Qatar TV, Time Magazine, the Financial Times, SABC, National Geographic Magazine, CNN, and Bloomberg. She has produced a documentary for Moroccan national television about Orson Welles and the city of Essouaira, and a series of programs about Moroccan women in history. As part of the Casablanca Calling team, Merieme participated in the 2011 Sundance Documentary Fellows Program. She is currently studying for a Master’s degree in documentary film in Tetouan, and co-directing another documentary feature with Rosa Rogers, Pirates of Salé.

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The Film

In Morocco, women are being employed as religious leaders — called Morchidat— for the first time, offering advice and guidance in mosques, schools, prisons, and orphanages around the country. The Islam they teach is based on tolerance, compassion and equality.

Casablanca Calling follows three exceptional women: Karima is witty, mischievous, and outgoing; Bouchra is powerhouse of energy working in the North; Hannane is a poetic soul — warm, wise, and compassionate, who wants to change people’s perceptions of the true teachings of Islam — including non-Muslims's conception of religious guides as "scary men with beards."

In the mosques, the Morchidat offer advice on everything from marital relationships, to bringing up children, work, money, and neighborhood disputes. They mentor teenagers in schools and fight against early marriage. They go into orphanages to offer comfort and guidance to children whose parents can’t afford to keep them. And they visit prisons to counsel the most vulnerable prisoners, and mediate between the inmates and their estranged families.