Opening Night at the Marrakech International Film Festival
Cannes may still hold the key in the French-speaking world for film festivals, but Marrakech is quickly gaining rank. Not a film market like Cannes, the festival offers a greater joy: an opportunities for people around the world to converge upon this gorgeous city simply for the joy of cinema.
The Marrakech International Film Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary Friday night. The Opening Ceremony at the Palais des Congres hosted a slew of international film talent. Women walking the red carpet showcased their gorgeous couture caftans, as well as quite a few Dior evening gown numbers. Inside, guests were welcomed by the Royal Symphonic Orchestra, and a special score composed for the occasion.
John Malkovich, president of the 2010 jury, brought onstage the rest of his international team, including Faouzi Bensaidi, Dominic Cooper, Maggie Cheung, Gael Garcia Bernal, Irene Jacob, Benoit Jaxquot, Riccardo Scamarcio, and Yousra, all who welcomed guests in their respective languages. Keanu Reeves introduced his opening night film, Henry's Crime, in which he plays an apathetic tollbooth worker, who after wrongly taking the fall for a bank robbery, decides to initiate a real burglary at the very bank where he was arrested.
Following the film, over 700 guests joined the Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid for a special dinner to commemorate the event. No expense was spared at the sprawling Moroccan feast. Guests dined on a massive array of traditional dishes including chicken tagine, veal shank with eggplant, cumin fish, honey couscous, barley-filled pumpkin, and a variety of famous Moroccan pastries. The Royal Orchestra was on hand to entertain guests with decadent film scores.
This year, special events include a tribute to French cinema, a conversation with Francis Ford Coppola, Master Classes with Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Lee Changdong and tributes to James Caan, Harvey Keitel, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Mohammed Abderrahman Tazi. In addition to 14 films in competition and special screenings, a series of films will be projected onto the historic Place Jemaa El Fna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renown the world over for its unparalleled orators.
My trip to Marrakesh was sponosored by the FIFM, but the opinions in this story are my own.