While not yet a household name, Aziz Tazi, hailing from Casablanca, Morocco, has all the makings to be one. Aziz Tazi found his early beginnings in film through a less conventional route: video games. Unable to get quite as passionate about video games the same way his peers did, Aziz found a more enticing interest in using his editing software to create movies from the games his friends played. Aziz would combine the best scenes from the games with music and upload the resulting clips onto the internet. At the time, there was no massive platforms for sharing videos, but Aziz amassed hundreds of thousands of downloads and views with his very first upload.
Aziz would not act on his newly found love of film making until much later. Before becoming a filmmaker, he pursued an education in Engineering in France. After graduating with his Bachelors, Aziz Tazi attended the University of Berkeley to obtain his two Masters degrees in Engineering. “It wasn’t until I had moved to France that I realized I didn’t want to pursue a career in Engineering,” Aziz admits, “I have my degrees framed, but I’ve never used them.” It was in France when Aziz decided to finally give his undeniable passion with film making a chance.
“In France I made films. I gathered a small crew, raised some money, and ended up making Imago, a film that was selected at the Arab Film Festival in Los Angeles. It screened on the opening night in Hollywood. That was a big achievement for me and it really motivated me not to give up,” Aziz states.
Aziz Tazi would also, while in France and America, intern on movie sets and pick up any tips or education that he could. Considering himself a self-taught filmmaker, Aziz relied solely on his own research and passion for film to eventually grasp the mechanics of it. With Imago’s success, it seems that he certainly did.
With no intentions on slowing down, Aziz is planning to release his next film, Night Walk, at the end of this year. The film stars actors who have played in A Dark Knight, Minority Report, and Friday, to name a few. Night Walk could be considered both a response to and result of the tense political and social attitudes toward the Middle East. Aziz feels that his film, a love story that interlopes into a crime drama taking place in America and the Middle East, is exactly the kind of film its future viewers need to see.
“We tend to have a very monolithic view of people from the Arab or Muslim culture, and this film will hopefully enhance the public understanding and break the stereotypes associated with these communities. When we consider the representation of Arabs or Muslims in western media, we get the three B’s: bomber, billionaire, or belly dancer. That’s the roles we get, but we’re more than that, and we’re normal people. Unfortunately, Hollywood still has very stereotypical roles for certain communities, but it’s changing. And it’s changing with stories that show characters that can be different, and that can be people we relate to,” Aziz states.
Night Walk seems adamant in being different, being relatable, and most of all, being more than your standard film, as it engages thoughtfully with the world around it and encourages its viewers to do the same.