Taxi Casablanca at the Calgary International Film Festival
October 4, 2010 § 1 Comment
“For Zakia, driving the taxi affirms her identity as a free woman.”
Morocco is said to be one of the most progressive Middle Eastern countries, so far as women’s rights are concerned. In 2004, King Mohammed VI passed the family law code which officially recognized women, as of age 18, as legal entities for the first time. The law granted women greater rights during divorce, changed the legal age of marriage from 15 to 18, placed restrictions on polygamy and gave women the right to marry without the consent of a male guardian. However, societal expectations around marriage and family, the stigma that accompanies divorce, issues of poverty and lack of education make taking advantage of these legal rights challenging for many women.
Sharing the taxi with her ex-husband, Zakia has spent upwards of five hours a day behind the wheel for more than eight years. Opinions toward her chosen career range from surprise, to support, to staunch disapproval. By the encouragement of her supporters, and determined to prove her detractors wrong, Zakia goes about her day. She seems to take genuine pleasure in driving, even if it’s at someone else’s behest.
In the face of religious and societal traditions, Zakia takes a powerful stand against Morocco’s approved cultural norms. Her courage has proven to be an inspiration for other women in the city. “When I see this woman driving, it’s as if I’m driving,” says one female passenger. “I would love to have that opportunity. To get to that place, you had to show men there’s nothing women can’t do. And it’s true!”
The film covers several broad themes in one fell swoop – women’s rights, poverty, education, domestic abuse and employment. Along with the varied applications in academia – women studies, cultural studies, and economic studies – the film is an intelligent and interesting choice for casual observers.
You can catch Taxi Casablanca, part of the Beyond Borders series, at 2pm on Wednesday, September 29th at the EMMEDIA Gallery.