Mimoun Oaïssa • Actor
by Boyd van Hoeij
24/01/2006 - Mimoun Oaïssa is the 2006 Shooting Star from the Netherlands. He was born in 1975 in Morocco and studied acting at the Amsterdam drama school and in New York. He was the initiator as well as the protagonist of the multicultural tragicomedy Shouf Shouf Habibi! (one of Variety’s “Ten to watch 2004”), which earned him a Special Jury Prize at the Dutch Film Festival as well as a Best Actor nomination. His role in the comedy Schnitzel Paradise [trailer, film focus] earned him a Best Supporting Actor win the following year. At the Dutch box office, the two films together have sold over 750.000 tickets, cementing Oaïssa’s status as a recognizable star.
Cineuropa: What would be your personal sales pitch for the European filmmakers; what should they know about you and what are your aspirations?
Mimoun Oaïssa: I am not much used to selling myself this way, but let’s give it a go. My biggest qualities are my dedication and my versatility. My philosophy is that either one does something properly or does not do it at all. I am also very versatile: I am used to tackling large chunks of text (something I learnt at drama school and in the theatre) but I am also a very physical actor. I am a sports fanatic; I have been the European champion in penchak silat [a Southeast Asian form of martial arts] and practice kickboxing. I am also versatile in terms of creating material. I am equally at home in comedy and drama. I initiated Shouf shouf habibi!, and developed the idea together with the director. I wrote my own dialogues for Schnitzel Paradise and have co-written and star in the TV-series spin-off of Shouf as well. In terms of my background, I blend in with “the boys from the hood” but I also did well at the somewhat elitist gymnasium [the Dutch secondary school that prepares for university entry] and in the theatre ensemble Toneelgroep Amsterdam. These experiences are of great help when creating diverse characters. My ambition would be to initiate and continue creating and developing my own projects and to participate in interesting international productions as an actor. A film’s nationality is not really important; I would like to collaborate with people who try to create something authentic.
How do you feel about representing the Netherlands for the Shooting Stars and is nationality important nowadays?
Nationality doesn’t mean anything to me. I feel Dutch, Moroccan, Arabic, European, American, Mexican, whatever. What I like so much about acting is that I get a chance to act out all of these at one time or another.
The immigrant experience is an important part of your life and work; what about it makes it attractive for an actor?
The most interesting thing about our times is that there are processes happening on several levels – national, continental and international – that overlap and influence one another. This leads to the creation of intangible but nevertheless powerful intersections where things happen beyond anyone’s control. The films that I am often most attracted to are the ones that tap into these intersections and try to make them visible.