Julia Furer • Director of Love Will Come Later
“When you dig deeper, that’s when it gets interesting”
by Marta Bałaga
- This documentary takes its director all the way to Morocco as she follows Samir on his quest for love
Samir is looking for love – it’s that simple. Except it’s not, not really, as what his family wants is for him to stay at home and agree to an arranged marriage. But Samir, whose previous relationships would all end at the airport, still thinks about heading to Europe instead. We talked to director Julia Furer about her documentary Love Will Come Later [+see also:
interview: Julia Furer
film profile], which world-premiered in the Focus Competition of the Zurich Film Festival.
Cineuropa: It can sometimes be tricky to talk about cultures that are not your own. How was it in your case?
Julia Furer: I was in a relationship with a Moroccan man for a very long time. Everybody always tends to talk about pairings like that: “How can you be together? Why are you together?” It was different, looking at things from the European perspective, but also realising that nobody really talks about this other perspective either. What does it mean for someone like Samir, figuring out whether he should leave or fight for love? Maybe the point was to look behind the clichés. We tend to think that it’s just women, going to get their hair done and talking about their feelings. But men do it, too! I was so impressed, seeing that love is all around in this culture. It’s in poetry and music. Everyone speaks very openly about it.
That was surprising. Was it a problem for them to have you eavesdrop on these conversations, however?
At the beginning, it was hard even trying to explain what kind of documentary I wanted to make. I always say there are certain kinds of films we already know: there is an old woman, crying in front of a house that just got destroyed, or there is a documentary channel showing the little elephant. But I wanted to show people who talk about their feelings. In that culture, you don’t show your woman; you don’t show your house – it’s all about privacy. It’s changing now, but that was maybe the hardest part. It was important to spend some time together, also without the camera, slowly building respect. The Moroccans don’t just fling open their doors, letting you film their mother. I spent a lot of time with people who have a different approach to life, like Samir’s sister, but in the end, it’s about respect.
When it comes to arranged marriages, it’s mostly presented from the perspective of the future brides. Not so much from the men’s side.
It would be much harder to film a young Moroccan woman, even though they also have flings and sexual relationships; you could shatter somebody’s life. At the beginning, I had different protagonists, but I decided to go deeper into this one life. When you dig deeper, that’s when it gets interesting. With Samir, I think his easy-going mentality helped a lot, also during the shoot. But it was hard to tell his story, as so much of it is internal. Many people were wondering why we chose him. “He is always tired!” they would say. I think he is a warm character, and I saw something in him, but not everybody did.
How do you develop these relationships and convince people to show you something real?
There is this endless discussion about what’s real and what’s not. Whenever there is a camera around, you act differently – it’s normal. When I was shooting the film, I spoke only basic Arabic: very simple, very bad. I was often at a loss during these scenes, so that was also about trust. Later, many interpreters would help me out for free because we didn’t have enough money, but you could sense that my protagonists felt much more comfortable because I didn’t understand what they were saying sometimes. We always shot with multiple cameras, just to capture the expressions, which is what we would focus on whenever we got lost. And we just hoped for the best.
People in Morocco don’t really speak about arranged marriage, because for them, it’s just normal. The positive thing about me being a foreigner was that I was able to ask about it again and again, and they would explain it to me. I learnt so much about this culture, even though I thought I already knew it. But you can never learn enough.
You also show his world outside of the house; you go into the streets. Did you try to avoid having a touristy vibe to these scenes?
That was actually very hard. If you want to show any city, these recognisable images do tend to pop up. That’s what happens – you go to Paris and you end up with the Eiffel Tower in the frame. But for this film, it just didn’t fit. Also, when you shoot outside, it’s hard, even when you have a permit. They stop you all the time. We always had to pay attention to what we were showing, as some people didn’t want to be featured. It could never be really spontaneous. At one point, we wondered whether we should just feature all of these problems in the film –include them somehow. But then Samir would just have got lost, and I didn’t want that.
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