Marrakech Film Festival kicks off on a more serene note
Following last year's emotionally-charged edition which took place shortly after the Paris attacks, Marrakech Film Festival opened on a more serene note on Friday, with an introduction by Hungarian Master Bela Tarr who serves as the 16th edition jury president. Tarr, a radical filmmaker best known for "The Man From London" and "The Turin Horse," made a heart-warming, politics-free speech celebrating the humanistic virtues of cinema.
"We all are here because we all believe of the power of the motion picture, we all believe in human beings, in human dignity and dignity of all kinds of life and I hope we'll see beautiful movies. Cross your fingers for the future," said Tarr, stirring strong applauses. The ceremony was followed by the Moroccan premiere of Kim Jee-woon's "The Age Of Shadows" and a lavish party hosted by the Prince Moulay Rachid.
Tarr is presiding over a multinational jury composed Italian actress Jasmine Trinca, Moroccan actress Fatima Harrandi, Indian-French actress Kalki Koechlin, French director Bruno Dumont, Canadian actress Suzanne Clement, American actor Jason Clarke, Swedish director Billie August and Argentine director Lisandro Alonso. Hailed as one of Arab world's most significant cultural event, Marrakech gathered several stars, including Japanese director Tsukamoto Shinya, French actress Elsa Zilberstein, Egyptian star Yousra, Jee-Woon, Moroccan TV host and actress Leila Hadioui, Omar Lotfi.
Marrakech is also expected to welcome "Elle" director Paul Verhoeven, French star Isabelle Adjani, Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto and Moroccan actor Abderrahim Tounsi, who will receive career tributes. Other guests of honor set to attend are American helmer Paul Haggis and Russian director Pavel Lounguine who will give masterclasses, along with Verhoeven. Lounguine is among the many Russian filmmakers and industry figures who will be feted at Marrakech as part of this year's focus on Russian cinema.
Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami, who passed this year, will also be remembered at the festival. Although this is year's fest is low on Hollywood star presence, the festival managed to draw a US delegation of industry players, including Gary French, senior VP of production at Touchstone Television Productions, and Gary Goodman, executive VP of productions at Lionsgate. The presence of US execs at the festival is part of the Moroccan government's push to continue attracting foreign productions in Morocco in spite of the geo-political context.
Last year's festival, which took place less than a months after the attacks, welcomed Francis Ford Coppola and Bill Murray, along with a flurry of high-profile film figures. In recent years, the fest drew Martin Scorsese, James Gray, Mads Mikkelsen, Sharon Stone and Marion Cotillard, among others. Chaired by Morocco's King Mohamed VI and the Prince Moulay Rachid the festival will present two Moroccan films: "Majid" and "My Uncle," both of which are directed by upand-coming director Nassim Abassi. Five feature debuts will play in competition: "The Donor," "The Fits," "Knife in the Clear Water," "Heartstone" and "Parting," which will represent Afghanistan in the foreign-language Oscar race.—
Jury members (from left) Kalki Koechlin, Suzanne Clement, jury president Bela Tarr, Fatima Harandi ‘Raouia’ attend the 16th Marrakech International Film Festival Opening Ceremony in Marrakech. The festival runs from Dec. 2-10.
Leila Hadioui attends the opening ceremony of the 16th Marrakech International Film Festival in Marrakesh yesterday.
Rachid M’Barki and his wife Marianne Soubret
Director Kim Jee-woon — AFP photos