The International Film Festival of Marrakech returned this weekend for its anniversary edition, running from November 24 to December 2, celebrating the art of cinema. This one is likely to be a restrained edition centered on screenings, debates, and the visions of global filmmakers, given the current challenging international context. A closer look at the highlights below.
On the schedule for the the International Film Festival of Marrakech is a meticulously curated competition featuring 14 first and second films from around the globe, unveiled in exclusive previews during the festival. A star-studded jury led by Jessica Chastain, accompanied by Iranian actress Zar Amir, French comedian Camille Cottin, Australian actor and director Joel Edgerton, British filmmaker Joanna Hogg, American director Dee Rees, Swedish-Egyptian director Tarek Saleh, Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgård, and Franco-Moroccan writer Leila Slimani, will evaluate a selection rich in bold and compelling films.
“It’s a special edition taking place in a difficult international context, thus it will be more restrained, focusing on film screenings, discussions with directors and actors, and professional encounters,” shares Ali Hajji, the festival’s general coordinator and selection committee member. “The two Moroccan films in the competition are highly anticipated by the public, professionals, and national media, as they have been widely discussed in recent months since their Cannes recognition,” he continues, referencing Asmae El Moudir’s Mother of all Lies, which earned the Un Certain Regard screenplay award at Cannes, and Kamal Lazraq’s Hounds, which received the Jury Prize in the same category. “With the selection committee, we watched over 800 films to choose 75 from 36 countries. The competition, exclusively featuring first and second feature films, is dedicated to discovering young talents in global cinema. Through the various sections of the Festival, we aim to highlight the diversity of global cinematic creation,” explains Ali Hajji, discussing the festival’s different sections, from special sessions to gala screenings, the 11th Continent, the Young Audience program, and the Moroccan Panorama.
From international stars to emerging filmmakers
The festival isn’t just about films, it also offers privileged moments with cinema personalities. Ten essential figures from global cinema, spanning five continents, are set to grace Marrakech this year for the ‘In Conversation with…’ program. Between delightful anecdotes and candid discussions on their perspectives and craft, actors, directors, screenwriters, and producers are invited to freely engage with the festival’s audience. Cinema lessons that promise to be rich and fascinating this year feature the charismatic Australian actor and director Simon Baker, the talented Moroccan director Faouzi Bensaïdi, who will be honored at the Festival, the bold and audacious French director Bertrand Bonello, the legendary American actor Willem Dafoe, influential Indian filmmaker and producer Anurag Kashyap, the uniquely distinctive Japanese director Naomi Kawase, the magnetic Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, who will receive the Festival’s Golden Star, the committed American-Danish actor and director Viggo Mortensen, the Scottish actress with multiple transformations Tilda Swinton, and the multi-award-winning and highly respected Russian director and screenwriter Andreï Zvyagintsev.
Alongside these, the days will be filled with screenings at the Colisée cinema in the morning and early afternoon, including a Young Audience program. Young filmmakers will have the chance to have their projects supported by the Ateliers de l’Atlas, this year mentored by none other than Martin Scorsese, a first for the festival inaugurating this tradition of naming a significant global cinema personality as a laureate promoter. “The Ateliers de l’Atlas were created to support young filmmakers from the Arab world and Africa. The platform quickly became essential, gathering nearly 300 professionals from around the world each year. Many films supported by the workshops are regularly selected and awarded at major film festivals worldwide. This year, we’re presenting 9 films that have emerged from these workshops in Marrakech.”