Everything You Need to Know About the 2019 Marrakech Film Festival

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Rabat – The Marrakech International Film Festival (FIFM) is a major annual event in Morocco that aims to reward the best Moroccan and foreign feature and short films. FIFM is one of the biggest events devoted to Moroccan cinema

18th Marrakech International Film Festival to Honor Australian Cinema

King Mohammed VI established the festival in 2001 to promote arts and the film industry in the North African country. FIFM is chaired by the King’s brother, Prince Moulay Rachid.

The 2019 festival, beginning November 29 and ending December 7, will pay tribute to Australian cinema. 

Australia produced the first feature-length fiction film in history and is an extraordinary source of talent for Hollywood, and home to some of the brightest stars of English-language cinema, according to the FIFM organizers.

Everything You Need to Know About the 2019 Marrakech Film Festival
A still from the earliest known feature-length narrative film in the world, The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906).

A distinguished delegation of Australian actors and directors will travel to Marrakech for the tribute. Among the attendees are Naomi Watts, Geoffrey Rush, Ben Mendelsohn, Radha Mitchell, and Jack Thompson. 

Read also: Hollywood Reporter: Marrakech Film Festival Platform for A-List Talent

The FIFM 2019 jury

The jury of the 18th installment of FIFM is composed of nine world-renowned personalities, each representing different cinematographic expressions, eight different countries, and five continents. 

The jury awards the festival’s various prizes. The Golden Star 2019 will reward the best film of the competition during the event’s closing ceremony on December 7. 

The president of the 2019 jury is Tilda Swinton, an Academy Award-winning Scottish actress known for her roles in both independent arthouse films and blockbusters. 

Everything You Need to Know About the 2019 Marrakech Film Festival
Tilda Swinton will chair the jury at the 2019 Marrakech International Film Festival.

Swinton has appeared in more than 70 feature films. She has also produced and co-produced feature films and documentaries since 2005.

Former jury presidents include Martin Scorsese and James Gray.

The 2019 jury includes three other women: French director Rebecca Zlotowski, British director Andrea Arnold, and French-Italian actress Chiara Mastroianni. 

Moroccan director Ali Essafi is also on the jury, along with Afghan director Atiq Rahimi. 

Everything You Need to Know About the 2019 Marrakech Film Festival
Ali Essafi is one of Morocco’s most important documentary filmmakers and video artists.

The remaining jury members include Brazilian director Kleber Mendonça Filho, Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt, and Australian director David Michôd.

Morocco in the FIFM 2019 lineup

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The festival will open with a screening of “Knives Out,” an American film by director Rian Johnson. 

Everything You Need to Know About the 2019 Marrakech Film Festival
“Knives Out” is described as a modern take on the whodunit murder mystery genre.

The official competition will include 14 films, including “The Miracle of the Unknown Saint” by Moroccan director Alaa Eddine Aljem. The other 13 films in competition are:

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”

Everything You Need to Know About the 2019 Marrakech Film Festival
“Valley of Souls” is about a Columbian fisherman whose family is killed by paramilitaries.

On top of the films in competition, the festival will also screen an array of films from countries around the world throughout the week. 

Abdelkader Lagtaa’s “A Love in Casablanca,” Farida Bourquia’s “Two Women on the Road,” and Saad Chraibi’s “Women… and Women” are some of the Moroccan films that will grace the screen. 

As the festival pays tribute to Australian cinema, it will project 25 Australian films. A few of the Australian works in the non-competitive lineup include: 

Ted Kotcheff’s “Awakening in Terror”

George Miller’s “Mad Max”

Peter Weir’s “Hanging Rock Picnic”

Garth Davis’s “Lion”

Justin Kurzel’s “True History of the Kelly Gang”

Everything You Need to Know About the 2019 Marrakech Film Festival
“True History of the Kelly Gang” is a 2019 British-Australian biographical western film based upon the 2000 novel of the same name by Peter Carey.

FIFM 2019 will conclude with “Ras el Sana,” an Egyptian film directed by Sakr. 

The Australian delegation

Naomi Watts, Geoffrey Rush, Ben Mendelsohn, Radha Mitchell, and Jack Thompson are only a fraction of the 25-member Australian delegation. 

The other actors in the delegation are Jason Clar, Abbie Cornish, David Wenham, Anthony La Paglia, Greta Scacchi, Aden Young, and Richard Roxborough.

The delegation is also composed of several Australian directors and producers. 

Gillian Armstrong, Bruce Beresford, Rolf De Heer, John Duigan, Mirrah Foulkes, Samatha Lang, David Michod, Rachel Perkins, Molly Reynolds, Fred Schepsi, and producer Jan Chapman are all set to attend the festival as part of the elite Australian squad. 

Read also: 18th Marrakech International Film Festival to Honor Australian Cinema

The FIFM 2019 tribute

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The organizers of FIFM announced that the festival’s guest of honor is American actor, director, and producer Robert Redford

Everything You Need to Know About the 2019 Marrakech Film Festival
Robert Redford briefly retired from directing and producing in 2018. Photo credit: Getty Images

Redford, a central figure in American cinema, began his career on Broadway. He began acting on television in the late 1950s and made his first film debut in 1962 with “War Hunt.”

Redford first earned an Oscar nomination for best actor for his role in “The Scam,” a film that won seven Academy Awards. 

The 83-year-old founded the Sundance Institute and launched the Sundance Film Festival in 1981. 

Everything You Need to Know About the 2019 Marrakech Film Festival
The Sundance Film Festival is the largest independent film festival in the US. Photo by Travis Wise

Throughout his career, Redford has received the Screen Actors Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award, an Honorary Oscar, the Kennedy Center Honors, a César d’honneur, and the Légion d’honneur Medal, the highest distinction in France. 

In 2016, former US President Barack Obama presented him with a presidential medal of freedom.

Prince Moulay Rachid, as president of FIFM, outlined the remaining three names in filmmaking to whom the festival will pay tribute: French director Bertrand Tavernier, Indian actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Morocco’s own Mouna Fettou.

Everything You Need to Know About the 2019 Marrakech Film Festival
Mouna Fettou has appeared in numerous films in Moroccan cinema and television, as well as in plays in Morocco.

Each of the actors’ performances have had “a significant impact on our contemporary national cinema,” the Prince said in an official statement.  

“I dearly hope this edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival will bring many moments of happiness,” the Prince’s statement continues.

“May all take this time to strengthen the bonds that unite us in friendship through the seventh art as we redouble our efforts to envision a more peaceful world.”

Read also: Mouna Fettou Protests Belittlement of Moroccan Actors at Marrakech Film Festival


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