The inaugural film of the World Cinema Project’s efforts, Trances [Transes] is a picture unlike any other: a poetic, roving documentary-portrait performance-film based around the Moroccan band Nass El Ghiwane.
In this rare, transformational work, Nass El Ghiwane perform their music at concerts at once fervidly rally-like and suffused with the spontaneity of a mass happening; recount their time working alongside the great chaâbi musician Boudjemaâ El Ankis in the 1970s; and generally philosophise and reflect upon life. As Martin Scorsese expressed at the time of the film’s representation in 2007: “I became passionate about this music that I heard and I saw also the way the film was made, the concert that was photographed and the effect of the music on the audience at the concert. I tracked down the music and eventually it became my inspiration for many of the designs and construction of my film The Last Temptation of Christ. [...] And I think the group was singing damnation: their people, their beliefs, their sufferings, and their prayers all came through their singing. And I think the film is beautifully made by Ahmed El Maanouni; it’s been an obsession of mine since 1981.”
True to its title, Trances is an hypnotic, exhilarating masterwork. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Ahmed El Maanouni’s film, restored from the original 16mm camera and sound negatives, on Blu-ray and DVD for the first time in the UK.