Ayouch’s film tells the story of four women working as prostitutes in Morocco’s most popular tourist destination, Marrakesh. It was banned by the Moroccan government after it was screened at this year’s Cannes Film Festival ahead of a planned autumn release. At the time, the Minister of communication Mustapha El Khalfi said that “it undermines the moral values and dignity of Moroccan women, and is a flagrant attack on the Kingdom’s image”
Accepting the award, Ayouch paid hommage to Arab women who he said face “a daily battle to make sure their basic civil rights are upheld.”
Much Loved’s lead actress Loubna Abidar took the award for best actress while best actor went to Nicolas Duvauchelle for Emmanuel Finkiel’s Je ne Suis Pas un Salaud.
French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade presided over a jury which included actresses Marie Gillain and Irène Jacob.