Marrakech Film Festival paid tributes to the best of Australian cinema

Marrakech Film Festival 2019 is screening 25 feature films from Down Under during its 9 days programme

BYYasir Rehman
SOURCEEmbassy of Kingdom of Morocco


The 18th edition of the extravaganza Marrakech International Film Festival which runs in Marrakesh, the cultural capital of Morocco until Saturday, December 7, paying rich tributes to the best of Australian cinema.

Marrakech Film Festival kicked off on Friday, November 29 evening with some of Hollywood’s most recognised talents sharing stage including Tilda Swinton, with the Oscar-winning Michael Clayton star serving as president of the festival’s jury for 2019..

Australia was Guest of Honour for Marrakech Film Festival 2019

This year Australia figures as the Guest of Honour, will feature around 25 Australian films, paying tribute to one of the oldest cinemas in the world.

The Program of this edition included the cinematographic productions which marked the history of Australian Cinema all over the last five decades. The landscapes of the Australian continent are ever present in these large-scale productions. They are places filled with inspiration, soul and a powerful screen presence, like mythical Ayers Rock, deserts stretching to infinity yet brimming with life, bushland that is at once exotic and mysterious.

Popular Australian actress Naomi Watts attended the opening ceremony of the 18th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival

The contemporary Australian cinema is also present, in the schedule of this 18th edition, through films such as “Breath” featuring the popular actor Simon Baker, “Lion” by Garth Davis, a big international success which has obtained not less than 6 Oscar nominations in 2017 or “True History of the Kelly Gang” by Justin Kurzel, which brings together an exceptional cast and is one of the most anticipated films of 2019.

The Australian delegation will also include directors Gillian Armstrong (My brilliant Career), Bruce Beresford (Miss Daisy – Oscar for best movie 1989), Rolf De Heer (Charlie’s country), John Duigan (The year my voice broke), Mirrah Foulkes (Judy & Punch), Samantha Lang (The Well), David Michod (Animal Kingdom), Rachel Perkins (Bran Nue Dae), Molly Reynolds (Another Country), Fred Schepisi (A Scream in the Night) and Producer Jan Chapman (The piano lesson). Among the attendees are also the following famous Australian actors: Naomi Watts, Geoffrey Rush, Ben Mendelsohn, Radha Mitchell, Jack Thompson, Jason Clar, Abbie Cornish, David Wenham, Anthony La Paglia, Greta Scacchi, Aden Young and Richard Roxborough.

This year’s edition will further highlight the beauty of the seventh art with a rich program including an official competition for new talents under the watchful eye of the jury. The festival’s jury gathers important international writers, actors and personalities, and aims to reward the best Moroccan and foreign feature and short films.

Naomi Watts, Tilda Swinton, the jury president and Ali Essafi attend the opening ceremony of the 18th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival

The jury of this year will by presided the Scottish Actress, Tilda Swinton and will include the Australian Director and Screen Writer, David Michôd.

In this regard, the Golden Star 2019 will reward the best film of the competition during the event’s closing ceremony on December 7.

Moreover, the Guest of Honour of this edition is the American Star, Robert Redford known for his roles in “Sunday in New York”, “The Sting” or “Barefoot in the Park”.

Furthermore, the 18th edition of this renowned festival will pay tribute to the French director Bertrand Tavernier, the Indian actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and the Moroccan actress, Mouna Fettou. Each one of them had a significant impact on the contemporary cinema of their respective countries.

The opening of the Film Festival, on the 29th of November was marked by the screening of “Knives Out,” an American film by director Rian Johnson.

14 films were competing in the framework of the official competition, including “The Miracle of the Unknown Saint” by the Moroccan director Alaa Eddine Aljem. Herafter are the other 13 movies to figure in this year’s competition:

 Shannon Murphy’s “Babyteeth”

 Gitanjali Rao’s “Bombay Rose”

 Maya Da-Rin’s “The Fever”

 Abdulmohsen Aldhabaan’s “Last Visit”

 Fyzal Boulifa’s “Lynn + Lucy”

 Stefan Malesevic’s “Mamonga”

 Annabelle Attanasio’s “Mickey and the Bear”

 Zhai Yixiang’s “Mosaic Portrait”

 Mamadou Dia’s “Nafi’s Father”

 Lee Jih-young and Kim Sol’s “Scattered Night”

 Carlo Sironi’s “Sole”

 Ala Eddine Slim’s “Tlamess”

 Nicolas Rincon Gille’s “Valley of Souls”

US actress Blanca Blanco at the opening ceremony of Marrakech International Film Festival

The presence of Australia in the 18th edition of the Marrakech Film Festival adds further momentum to this event which has paid tribute, all over the two last decades, to well renowned cinema industries such as those of Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Mexico, South Korea, Japan, Canada, Russia, India and others.

It is worth recalling that the Marrakech Film Festival is an international Film Festival founded by the Marrakech International Film Festival Foundation in 2001 and organized annually in the city of Marrakech. It is held under the High Patronage of His Majesty Mohammed VI, King of Morocco and chaired by Prince Moulay Rachid.

H.H Lalla Hasnaa at the Marrakech Film Festival

The programming, tributes, master classes, audio description films for the visually impaired and projections on the main square of Jemaa El Fna as well as the participation of great stars in previous editions such as Leonardo Di Caprio, Martin Scorcesse, Robert De Niro, Shahrukh Khan and others have contributed to make of the Marrakech International Film Festival a place where dreams, art and civic engagement coexist in harmony.

Apart from being a popular source of entertainment, the films screened at Marrakech’s International Film Festival serve as a powerful tool for educating, and even indoctrinating, the public. The cinema industry is very important to Morocco, where production is increasing significantly all over the last years thanks to the contribution of the Moroccan Cinematographic Centre.

Besides, the vast, overwhelming landscapes and the magnificient studios established in the “Moroccan Hollywood”, Ouarzazate attract film producers and directors from all over the world. There is a special kind of light that only exists in the Kingdom as an entrance to Africa and this is a major attraction for film makers. Cinema fans are also overwhelmed by the intense and unique colours of the Moroccan landscape.

H.H Lalla Hasnaa and president of jury 2019 Tilda Swinton at the Marrakech Film Festival

The International Film Festival of Marrakech has also played an essential role in educating the public, both in Morocco and abroad, on current issues and events in the country. It has raised awareness about Moroccan culture and promotes natural and historical sights. Morocco’s own developing film industry benefits from the festival and interaction with film makers from other countries. The festival also contributes to the promotion of Morocco as a touristic destination.

French actress Elodie Bouchez at the opening ceremony of Marrakech Film Festival 2019

Marrakech, with its magic aspects and famous Jamaa El Fna square that bustles with story-tellers, acrobats, dancers and musicians, has proven to be the perfect venue for this international cultural event which gains larger number of audience each year thanks to the perfect symbiosis between High level Cinema and the perfect ambience provided by Marrakech, particularly and the Kingdom of Morocco, the land of multiculturalism and tolerance, generally.

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