REPORTAGE – Whether for Paul Schrader or Neil Jordan in the gala evenings or for novice filmmakers in competition, the screenings of the Moroccan festival are full of students and amateurs of the seventh art.
From our journalist in Marrakech,
Give visibility to first-time directors, train Moroccan and African film lovers and filmmakers of tomorrow. This is the credo of the Marrakech International Film Festival. Back after two years of absence linked to the pandemic, the event, which ends this Saturday, has found its regulars. On the stars side, who met and gave their interviews at the La Mamounia palace, they marched on the red carpet Isabelle Huppert, Julie Delpy, Julia Ducournau, Jeremy Irons, Gabriel Yared. Spectators and lovers of the seventh art were not left out.
From the Palais des Congrès to the Yves Saint-Laurent museum, passing through the historic Colosseum cinema and public screenings on the large Jemaa el-Fna square, the screenings were full. Students provided the most dedicated contingent. The students of the city’s audiovisual and cinema courses even used their free week to meet renowned filmmakers, invited to talk about their careers like the twice palmed Swede Ruben Ostlundthe American James Gray…
The public was there to discover the latest works of the masters Guillermo del Toro (Pinocchio ), Paul Schrader (Master Gardener with Sigourney Weaver), Neil Jordan (Marlowe with Liam Neeson) only to get an idea of the feature films in competition, signed by promising young unknowns. The Marrakech festival awards its prizes, in fact, to first and second works.
The acclaimed competition and favorites
At the Thursday screening of Rice farmer’s sleep of Anthony Shim, the spectators, very eager to discuss after the fact with the scenario writer, had several times in the mouth the word of masterpiece to indicate this semi-autobiographical account of a small South Korean boy emigrated to Vancouver and subject to the mockery of his comrades. Denying his roots in adolescence and opposing his widowed mother who raises him alone, he will have the opportunity to finally meet his paternal family. Near minari in how to address issues of North American integration and identity, The sleep of the rice farmer, already awarded in Toronto, refuses the gaze of a child to pose the lucid and surly gaze of an adolescent. No temptation for a happy ending with Shim, who concludes his film with a cry that haunts memories for a long time.
With red-shoes, Carlos Eichelmann Kaiser shines the spotlight on the violence of Mexican society. Through feminicides and the struggle of a disgraced father to offer a burial to his daughter, with whom he has never been able to reconcile. From his remote mountains, the one-armed farmer arrives in the big city and rises to the front row to observe the gangs, the Kafkaesque administration in this silent western, in the light of neon lights and shabby hotel corridors.
Often quoted in the conversations of festival-goers, Autobiography by Makbul Mubarak follows an Indonesian villager recruited by a former junta officer. The ex-soldier wants the high school student to play him in the biographical TV movie he hopes to shoot. These three films and eleven others are in the running for the Golden Star on Saturday, which will be awarded by the jury chaired by the Italian filmmaker. Paolo Sorrentino. One of his jurors, the French comedian Tahar Rahim entrusted to Figaro to be delighted with this plunge into the universe of authors, forced to be extremely inventive and poetic, given the limits imposed on them by their lack of means.
The Marrakech film festival is also appreciated by the thousands of schoolchildren invited to youth screenings. It is for most of them, who watch films on platforms or family television, their first time in a dark room. On Wednesday morning, the teachers of the Abdelmalek Essaadi establishment were expending the energy of their students by making them make large hand and arm movements to encourage them to remain silent during the 72 minutes of the animated tale. Dounia and the Princess of Aleppo on the flight to Europe of a Syrian girl displaced by the war. Despite the language barrier – the film is in French for a young Arabic-speaking audience – the children were under the spell of this large “tableau” (aka the screen) and accompanied the songs of the film in rhythm. A little boy remarked fascinated that the heroine’s grandfather looked like his.
The organizers also strive to bring out a new generation of artists. Launched five years ago, the Les Ateliers de l’Atlas program brings together screenwriters, directors and documentary filmmakers from the African continent. They are working on their first to third film with confirmed distributors, producers and directors. These experts can provide advice and network to projects being set up or still at the development stage. Of the 270 proposals submitted to director Thibaut Bracq, 23 were selected. Seven winners will share 106,000 euros in prize money.
The section has proven itself. More than 350 consultations were carried out during this edition in the serene Country Club of Beldi. Co-writer of the series Oussekine Lina Soualem was able to show the rushes of her autobiographical family documentary Bye Bye Tiberias to the Caesarized editor of Timbuktu Nadia Ben Rachid. She also got advice on the music that will punctuate her investigation. “It’s precious to be able to submit your production to informed eyes. The Workshops also allow us to approach festival directors and see who may be interested, where to focus our efforts“, underlines the young author of 32 years.
Several past winners have shone in the parallel sections of Cannes, the Mostra or Sundance such as feathers by the Egyptian director Omar El Zohairy, which won Critics’ Week in 2021. A virtuous circle that the Marrakech Festival intends to continue.