Rabie Kati discusses his work in cinema and TV
Interview conducted by Imane Belhaj for Magharebia – 02/06/09
Rabie Kati is a young Moroccan actor who so far has displayed skill and intelligence in all kinds of roles. Both handsome and modest, Kati enjoys the admiration of a large number of fans. He has excelled in cinema and TV, and still has a lot to offer to his broad audience. Kati spoke to Magharebia about his new projects.
Magharebia: Who is Rabie Kati? And what are his new artistic projects?
Rabie Kati: I'm an African, Arab, and Moroccan citizen. I have been a professional actor since 2003. I'm a graduate of the High Institute of Theatre and Cultural Promotion. I started my career on the stage, where I took part in three plays in Europe, in Belgium and France. At the same time, I participated in several Egyptian, Moroccan, and Syrian TV series.
After that, the national cinema came, where I participated in my first film - Abwab Al Jenna (The Gates of Paradise) by brothers Soheil and Emad Nouri. Then there was a second film with director Hassan Benjelloun - "Fin Machi y'a Moshé" (Where are you going, Moshe). The first TV series is the "The mausoleum tree ".
On the international level, there have also been important experiences. I previously played the role of "Abou" in a French film called "Land of Light." Now, I’m about to start a new TV film. I think it will be a turning point in TV drama, as all the professional requirements are there. It's a huge production in classical Arabic, and it is expected to be screened next Ramadan. I play the role of a hero called "Niran", a supreme leader tasked with the protection of a kingdom against the enemies.
Magharebia: What is the role that made the Moroccan audience take better notice of you?
Kati: The audience got to know me [in] my first role on TV. I think I get closer and closer to the audience with each new role. This is because I try to appear as a new character each time, with a new message, and a new role that I want to be more distinguished than the previous ones.
Magharebia: What is the role that is closest to your heart, the one you like to play?
Kati: I choose my own work. There has never been a role that I was forced to take. I must be convinced of any role before I [accept it]. In fact, I try to choose a variety of roles so that my skills may be demonstrated better.
Yet, I tend to like historical roles better. History is very important for understanding our present and future. However, I think we still don't deal with the historical aspect in our TV drama although we have a glorious and old history. Therefore, we must take advantage of this in our production. There is also mythology, which I like a lot. Our history is full of myths, and they symbolise culture and identity, and they should have been employed in our cinema. Each Arab society is full of stories and myths that are always the product of a certain thought, and these can form raw material that makes a wonderful piece of work.
Magharebia: What is a role that you would reject if offered to you?
Kati: Of course, there are red lines that I put in front of me and I will not accept any roles that go past them. This is one of my strong artistic convictions as an actor. For instance, I reject any role that contains any distortion of the image of Islam or any desecration of our national sanctities or Arab identity.
Magharebia: What does it mean for you to take part in foreign films? Does it make you closer to becoming an international star?
Kati: In fact, the cinema of the north is an advanced cinema where all the professional requirements are available. This is thanks to experience and the long history this cinema [has had]. Here, I'm not making a comparison between the US or European cinema and our own cinema. Moroccan cinema is still young and is still in a stage of experimentation. But to work with those foreigners means enriching your experience and discovering the cinema and the culture of the other. The circumstances available when working in a foreign film are not the same circumstances when working in our national cinema. Therefore, it is some sort of dealing with the professionals who create that cinema. Here, I’m not underestimating our cinema, but as an actor, I want to speak the language of the cinema. I meet with the directors wherever they are in order to discover the features of other schools of cinema, whether on the level of directing, screenwriting or the management of actors.
Magharebia: Is there a world actor who is a role model for you?
Kati: No, I don't have a role model in life. I always want to live my personal experience without following in the footsteps of anyone. It's true that I benefit, for instance, from successful actors, and they too benefit from others.
Magharebia: Who is the world director you would like to work with?
Kati: I would be happy to work with any foreign director. As I have just said, it's an opportunity to get to work with others and to deepen the experiment. However, it is still an opportunity of work, no more, no less. Therefore, I leave the opportunity to work with world directors to fate and I live in the present. There are renowned masters, but I don't want to cling to illusions and hopes. Maybe opportunity or fate will bring me together with one of them one day.
Magharebia: What is your assessment of Moroccan directors?
Kati: The Moroccan director is still a young director, but he or she is familiar with the cinema revolution taking place in the field. Talking about Moroccan directing doesn't go beyond 1970 with the first film "Wechma", directed by Hamid Benani. We are still at the beginning, i.e. we still need academically-trained directors. In fact, their numbers are few, but we believe in the new skills, based on the fact that there are some young directors who studied abroad, but they want to look for opportunities in Morocco. I only want to confirm one thing here: affiliation and identity must be present in the Moroccan director.
Magharebia: Did your role in Gates of Paradise include a message to the youth today? If yes, what is that message?
Kati: Yes. In the Gates of Paradise, I had the opportunity to play a leading role. It is the role of a young man living a life of cultural polarisation, who believes in immigration and dreams about a better life overseas. Through the character of Nay, I actually tried to pass on a message to the youth who dream about immigration. It was an opportunity to say that paradise is not overseas, but inside Morocco. The film was also an opportunity to get to know young people who listen to hip hop and to communicate and exchange ideas with them.
Magharebia: By the way, how do you view today's youth? Is it true that they are indifferent? Frustrated or impressionable?
Kati: I confirm to you that our youth are aware and competent, but they haven't yet found their object of desire. They haven't found a civil society that embraces and trains them. They haven't yet found an education that matches the level of their ambitions. Yet, we find that they are trying to get out of their frustrated condition and to display their skill and ability to give in other fields. The hip hop youth who excelled in the musical field and found a place for them within society gave a living example of that interaction from within the society and not outside it. We don't have youth who are susceptible or impressionable, as you have just said. Rather, we have youth who haven't yet found the necessary means to support the improvement of their condition. The youth clubs that exist in Morocco may be ideally placed to play this continuous, meaningful cultural role that is based on national foundations and citizenship.
Magharebia: How does Rabie Kati deal with the fans? And how does he accept the criticism?
Kati: I respect the Moroccan viewers very much and I'm keen on the selection of my roles so that I do not let them down. I always hope to meet the fans' expectations. The fans are the judges and the real supporters who back us financially and encourage us morally. Therefore, I apologise to the viewers in case of any slip or fault or any work that was not satisfactory to them. As to the criticisms, I accept anything that can help correct my mistakes and push me forward to further improve the level of my performance.
Magharebia: Speaking of criticism, your film "Fin Machi y'a Moshé" has received a great deal. What do you think about it?
Kati: On the contrary, the film has a strong message. It is the story of a young Muslim, Hassan, who falls in love with a Jewish Moroccan girl. However, they are faced with the decision to send the Jews away to Israel. Therefore, the Moroccan Jews find themselves torn between Morocco, the land of peace, co-existence and good relations that doesn't discriminate between religions, and the "promised land", which they thought would provide them with a better life. The message of the film was clear. And all the Jews, even in countries other than Morocco, were touched by it. I once attended a screening of the film abroad, and one Jewish person cried. When I asked him why he cried, he said the film stirred up beautiful memories and historical moments that they shared with their Muslim brothers in the land of Morocco.
Subscribe to our newsletter and get Magharebia's latest articles delivered to your inbox.