November is the beginning of the rainy season in coastal north Africa, and Morocco's third city needed something to draw visitors during the inclement weather. So King Mohamed VI decreed that an outdoor film festival should be brought into existence. Today, the event is run by Public SystГЁme CinГ©ma, a French company that specializes in creating festivals.
Film is a natural here: Marrakesh has a long cinematic history, both as the centre of local production and as the geographic star of productions ranging from Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 The Man Who Knew Too Much
to The Mummy
, not to mention one of the finer episodes of the British TV comedy Absolutely Fabulous
The focal point of the event is the city's famed Jemaa El Fna, a vast square where free open-air screenings are held each evening. Luminaries in attendance in past years have included directors Martin Scorsese, Roman Polanski, Francis Ford Coppola and David Lynch and stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Sean Connery. This year, director Barry Levinson heads the jury that will judge a selection of international titles. The festival will pay tribute to actresses Sigourney Weaver and Michelle (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) Yeoh.
Also at this year's event: retrospectives on 40 years of British cinema and 50 years of Moroccan cinema, and on Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Joseph Losey. Director Hugh Hudson will present a master class at the Marrakesh Graduate School of Visual Arts - with limited free tickets available to the public.
Runs until Nov. 22. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.festivalmarrakech.info.
Excerpt from "Cinema in Paradise" by Denis Seguin. Read full article at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081119.wfests19/BNStory/specialTravel/home