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Hassouna Mansouri
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Hassouna Mansouri

FIFM 2009

Nabil Ben Yadir

"Les Barons"

"Les Barons"

"Les Barons"

"Les Barons"

"Les Barons", de Nabil Ben Yadir

"Les Barons", de Nabil Ben Yadir

Looking for the Right Equilibrium
9th International Film Festival of Marrakech (Morocco)

When the International Film Festival of Marrakech (Morocco) was established in 2001 by former French film producer Daniel Toscan Du Plantier on the demand of the highest authority in Morocco - King Mohamed VI - it was supposed to be a copy of the Cannes Film Festival. That was not a bad idea, but, at the same time: ‘Cannes is Cannes'. One can of course copy such a huge and historical monument of cinema on the level of its organisation, but a copy can hardly have the same prestige or importance for professionals, as it can simply not attract the same kind of world premieres.

The Maturity of an Event

The Film Festival of Marrakech is seen as the culmination of a process of revitalization of the Moroccan film industry that imposed the assessment of all observers. Thanks to the policy started in the 90's domestic production has been able to reach a respectable cruising speed which is necessary and helpful for the stimulation of foreign production. For 2009, the Moroccan Cinema Center expects 50 to 60 million US Dollars of foreign investments despite the fact that some productions were cancelled because of the economical crisis. This is a realistic hope compared to last year's record of circa 100 million US Dollars.

The Film Festival of Marrakech responded to a desire to situate Moroccan cinema in the world: on the one hand it is a gateway to world production, but it is also an opportunity to open the world to Moroccan cinema. For the 9th edition the organizers seem to have got the lesson: the majority of films in competition were all first features. Eight experimental editions were necessary to get this conviction and 2009 can be considered as the year of maturity.

As a result, the prices of this edition went to new talents. The jury honored two young actors: the Danish actor Cyron Melville for his role in Love and Rage (directed by Morten Giese) and the Dutch actress Lotte Verbeek for her leading role in the Dutch-Irish coproduction Nothing Personal (directed by Urszula Antoniak). The jury price went ex aequo to two first features: The Barons by Moroccan-Belgian Nabil ben Yadir and My Daughter by Malaysian Charlotte Lim Lay Kuen. The main price, the so called Golden Star, went to the young Mexican film maker Rigoberto Perezcano for his first feature Northless.

This is supposed to be an intelligent and big challenge. Intelligent because it gives more chance to get world premieres. And a big challenge, because it is more difficult to find good films in young generations than in elder ones. This strategy could put the festival in the category of minor events. However, parallel sections and special activities bring it to a higher level… But everything has a price…

The Difficult Sense of Balance

Betting on first features is risking to imprison the festival in the ghetto of small film events. That's why only eight competition films were really first features. The idea is to stay as much attached to the prestigious dimension of an international festival as possible, attracting some big productions and confirmed film makers. This is not easy for a young film festival coming after those of Cannes, Locarno, Toronto, Venice, London, etc. It's even quite impossible to compete with these kind of historical and prestigious film events.
To attract the attention of the world you need to be connected to the best of it. It is simple as the day. The international dimension can be seen in the jury chaired this year by Iranian Abbas Kiarostami, and consisiting of - among others - the French actress Fanny Ardant, the Palestinian director Elia Suleiman, and the Argentinian Pablo Trapero. But this is not enough.

Similarly, and since its first editions, the Festival has ensured room for great stars of world cinema. This year it paid tribute to two figures: the English actor Sir Ben Kingsley and the American Christopher Walken. The two Hollywood icons appear on the same honorary board as other major names of contemporary cinema: Bosnian Emir Kusturica, twice Palme d'Or winner in Cannes and Jim Jarmusch, the flagship of independent and auteur cinema in the United States. None could contest the high quality of these names. The philosophy standing behind this festival is to bring world cinema at home in order to put Moroccan talents at a level that can bring value.

However the big risk is to be cut from its natural roots. One could easily notice the lack of presence of African talents. Is it then the quality of production which is not good enough, or is it the political conviction to look more to the north and not competing with traditional African events like the Carthage Film Festival (Tunisia) and FESPACO (Burkina Faso)? But then, that would mean that they are not strong enough for international competition.

Anyhow, looking at the concept of the Film Festival of Marrakech one can easily go back to African events and African films and rethink the difficulties they face to be on the international stage, even when the event is organized on the continent.

by Hassouna Mansouri

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   liens films

Barons (Les) 2009
Nabil Ben Yadir

   liens artistes

Ben Yadir Nabil

Kiarostami Abbas

Suleiman Elia

Toscan Du Plantier Daniel

Toscan Du Plantier Melita

Trapero Pablo

Zinoun Lahcen


04/12/2009 > 12/12/2009
festival |Maroc |
Festival International du film de Marrakech (FIFM 2009)
9ème édition

   liens structures

Centre Cinématographique Marocain (CCM)
Maroc | RABAT

Fondation du Festival International du Film de Marrakech
Maroc | Marrakech

   liens festivals

festival | Maroc | Marrakech

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The Time that Remains trailer - English subtitles. A film by Elia Suleiman.
bande annonce


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