MIFF Opening Night Gala - Hounds / Les Meutes

London Premiere | 30 May 18:30 | Odeon Luxe West End

A kidnapping job goes awry for a father-son crime duo, leading to a chaotic night as they confront an unexpected challenge with no turning back.

Moroccan Filmmaker Kamal Lazraq extends the nocturnal universe of his first short film, “Man with a Dog,” which earned him his second prize from La Cinéfondation, into his debut feature, “Hounds”. Set in the gritty streets of Casablanca, father-and-son duo Hassan (Abdellah Lebkiri) and Issam (Ayoub Elaid) imbue the film with an authentic and immersive viewing experience, defined by Lazraq’s decision to cast non-actors. The duo attempt to survive from day to day while doing small deals for the precarious world of crime. Their already challenging existence takes a dark turn one night when a kidnapping job ends in a way they never foresaw. 

With the opening scene of a grating street-dog fight, the prize mutt is left dead, setting a sombre tone of what is to unfold. Consequently, Hassan is enlisted by the menacing Dib (Abdellah Lebkiri) to embark on revenge, while getting the dubious Issam into the mix. When Hassan fumbles the job, this triggers a long night shrouded in the pitch-black shadows and eerie neon lights of the dusky suburbs. Venturing through the depths of the city, they strive to rectify the mistake. 

As they come across grimy junkyards, desolate boatyards, abandoned gas stations and navigate between turf wars and police interference, Hassan grapples with his Islamic principles. Contending with his desperation to survive with his decisions while balancing religious obligations and moral conscience, Hassan finds himself torn between conflicting forces. 

Drawn deeper into the darkness, Hassan is compelled to confront his inner demons while guiding Issam through the landscape of their nightmarish ordeal. Drawing from the non-actors’ own life experiences and coupled with Lazraq’s visceral approach to the script, “Hounds” depict a realistic portrayal of the criminal underworld and the tough choices people confront due to circumstances beyond their control.

Kamal Lazraq | 94 mins | Morocco, France, Belgium, Qatar