Trances (1981)

28 October 2023, 05:00 PM







Ahmed El Maanouni


Documentary, Music

90 minutes

Arabic with English subtitles

NC16 (Some Nudity)

Main Summary

At the heart of their lively music and beyond the adrenaline high of their crowds, lies Moroccan band Nass El Ghiwane. Told in the form of a portrait documentary, Moroccan director Ahmed El-Maanouni lovingly brings to life the groundbreaking passion and music of the band through a series of candid interviews and electrifying performances.   

The film acts as an ode to local heritage, as audiences watch the band’s popularity unfold from their modernization of the Moroccan Gnawa trance-ritual music. Known for their political lyrics blended with traditional Moroccan sounds, the band showcases how music possesses the ability to amplify social and political change.   

Trances surpasses the expectations of a concert film. Martin Scorsese specifically selected the documentary for the World Cinema Project’s first release. It was also subsequently screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007 and at Djemaa el-Fna Square in Marrakesh, Morocco. Trances delves into the band members’ personal struggles, their impact on local culture, and their connection to the people. The film celebrates the power of music and offers a glimpse into the resilience of a society using art to reflect its hopes, aspirations, and challenges during a pivotal period of social upheaval.