If you’re a 25-year-old single woman in Arabic North Africa who stays out partying most of the night instead of looking for a job, you might very well feel that Traitors is a good name for the all-girl punk-rock band you sing for.
If you’re also willing to defy your father, who gambles away the monthly rent money, and the smugglers who have hired you to make a run down from their hashish stronghold in the mountains, then your status as a rebel is assured.
Doing what it takes
Malika’s heart isn’t in her job at the French-speaking call center in her home city, the Mediterranean port of Tangiers, so she doesn’t last long. Bad timing, because she discovers that her mother has been hiding a drawerful of eviction notices. And, more personally to Malika, a producer has heard her band’s demo song, a Moroccan version of the Clash classic “I’m So Bored with the U.S.A,” and now she has to figure out how to pay for the studio time to cut an album.
At first it looks like luck is on her side. She knows how to work on cars from hanging around her dad’s repair shop, and one night she’s able to help the local hash dealers get their luxury SUV back on the road for a healthy fee. Then, when she tries to scam a tourist in a sex transaction, she only escapes a beating when the same drug guys happen by and save her.
They even know how she can earn the money she needs. She has a driver’s license, right? All she has to do is make one trip from the Rif Mountains down to the port – no effort, no risk.
Nothing in common
The beautiful Moroccan scenery suggests a traveler’s paradise, but dangers lurk in the background. The local dealers seem pretty benign, but the higher-ups at the source seem to be a different breed. They run a tight operation – molding the fresh pollen into tight bricks, carefully packing the empty spaces of the vehicle, counting the minutes of sleep Malika will get before she starts the run.
Nor do they show much sense of humor when one of the team, a spacy young woman named Amal, tries to sneak a few snorts of product on the side. The bad news is that Amal is to be the one riding shotgun with Malika through the gauntlet of police checkpoints on the return trip.
The tension and the potential for mishap are further heightened by the fact that Amal seems to be jealous of the attention that the pretty, competent Malika is getting from the men. So we buckle our seatbelts for a dramatic ride with these two women who have nothing in common and who wish they could be with anyone else right now.
Something for everyone
“Traitors” employs many of the conventions of a Hollywood thriller, mixed liberally with realistic depictions of life in an exotic locale. It is presumably based on a true story, but there must be many stories like it all around the developing world – where the youth feel trapped by a lack of opportunity, where women are exploited for dangerous tasks, where contraband is smuggled out as a means of recreation among richer populations far away.
If You Go: This month’s installment of Arizona Western College Foundation’s ongoing film series Thursdays at the Theatre, “Traitors” will be shown Thurs., Dec. 5, at 7:00 p.m. in the Historic Yuma Theater, 254 S. Main Street. The screening includes a short film and hosted discussion. Languages are Arabic and French, with English subtitles; runtime of the feature is 84 minutes. Admission is $5, $2.50 for AWC students and staff.