By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 11/12/2005 | 1:07 pm
Marrakech - The 2005 Marrakech International Film Festival (MIFF) opened on Friday in Morocco's 'red city' with a special tribute to the Moroccan-born actor Hamidou, and the US Director Martin Scorsese.
At last Hamidou Benmassoud, alias Amidou, was paid tribute in his country of origin, Morocco.
The five-year old festival had waited for long before it honoured this talented actor for his achievements in the world cinema.
Hamidou jumped from joy while seeing his daughter Souad handing him the trophy. He burst into tears while dedicating the tribute to his late son who died recently.
“You can't imagine how happy and pride I am to receive this tribute from my native country, which remembered me after 35 years of artistic career outside Morocco,” Hamidou told Morocco Times.
“This is a special recognition of the efforts I have made to better represent Morocco in France and elsewhere in the world,” he added.
Amidou, 63, made his debut in France with Madeleine Renaud and Jean-Louis Barrault in Jean Genet's 'Les Paravents' (The Screens) and had a hand in staging the controversial play in 1961.
He explored the world of Cinema thanks to French Director Claude Lelouch who gave him major roles in many of his films. Hamidou featured in 'Le Propre de L'Homme', 'And Now... Ladies and Gentlemen', 'Le Voyou', 'Une fille et des fusils'...
He has also worked overseas along with outstanding and famous Hollywood actors including Brad Pitt, Silvester Stalone, and Michael caine. He has also proved he could speak many languages.
Amidou was in the cast of Otto Preminger's 'Rosebud' (1975), of William Friedkin's 'sorcerer' (1977) and 'Rules of engagement' (2000), in John Frankenheimer's 'Ronin' (1997) and in Tony Scott's 'Spy Game' (2001).
The festival also paid tribute to legendary US film maker Martin Scorsese for his numerous masterpieces. Scorsese has been awarded the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1976 for his famous film 'Taxi driver'.
French actress Catherine Deneuve handed over the trophy to Scorsese. Legendary Moroccan folk musicians, Nas el Ghiwane played 'Ya Sah' song, which inspired the US director in his film, the 'Last temptation of Christ'. Member of the el Ghiwane group, Omar Essayed, offered the director a collection of his band's CDs.
Scorsese was pleased to meet el Ghiwane again and said 'I discovered Nas el Ghiwane in 1981 through their Album 'Al Hal'. Their music inspired many of my films,” he said.
Scorsese also expressed his gratitude to Morocco for “the help the Kingdom, people and government, offered him to facilitate the direction of his films shot in North African country,” he said.
To honour Martin Scorsese, a selection of eight films shot in Morocco chosen by him will be featured, including 'Le Grand Jeu', 'La Bandera', 'Transes', 'Epido Re' and 'Kundun', the 'Last temptation of Christ'.
Acclaimed French director, Jean-Jacques Annaud, who has often directed literary-flavored films which examine tensions between nature and the earthier human passions, presented members of this year's jury who will work for eight intensive days to choose the best film who will win the 2005 Golden Star.
Members of the jury include, along with Annaud (president of the jury), Abdelkebir Khatibi (Moroccan writer), Deepa Mehta (Indian director), Stefania Rocca (Italian actress), Hend Sabri (Tunisian actress), Leonor Silveira (Portugeese actress), Idrissa Ouedraogo (director from Burkina Faso) and Mary Sweeney (American screenwriter, producer and editor).
The opening of the event was highlighted by the screening of Stephen Frears' musical comedy, “Mrs. Henderson presents”
The film stars Dame Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins, and Will Young. Set in pre-World War II London, Mrs Henderson Presents is a loving portrayal of London's Windmill Theatre whose motto "We never closed".
It tells the remarkable true-life story of one of England's most prominent and eccentric society figures, Laura Henderson, who founded the historic Windmill Theatre.
Driven by the desire to win back the dwindling music hall audiences who had been lured away by the advent of 'talking pictures', this charming lady and veritable force of nature was aided by equally formidable and tenacious theatre manager Vivian Van Damm, as she set about her task with the kind of vigour and determination which belied her advanced years.
This wonderfully argumentative pair was complete opposites, but their extraordinary partnership proved fruitful when Mrs. Henderson's influence in society enabled her to take advantage of a legal loophole which permitted the theatre to show entirely nude models on stage - provided they didn't move a muscle. From here it was an easy step to the 'Nude Revue,' a musical extravaganza which became a roaring success and cemented the Windmill Theatre's reputation and place in history.
The festival will feature 124 films, 16 in competition, including 10 first or second features, from 15 different countries.
This 5th edition will hold a panorama of Spanish Cinema. A total of 41 films, emblematic of the Spanish film production of the past fifty years, will be screened.
The “carte blanche” is given to Yash Chopra, one of the hippest and trendiest directors of Indian cinema. Yash Chopra is the only director of the older brigade of Indian filmmakers who has successfully moved with the times right from his first film Dhool ka Phool (1959) to his latest film Veer Zara (2004). His picturesque, poetic images often shot in Switzerland with melodious music are charged with rich feeling, and in spite of all the gloss on screen, his films are more about life than lifestyle. He is reported to have the best musical sense of all filmmakers in the Hindi Film Industry today.
To support emerging filmmakers from across the world, Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) has joined forces with the Marrakech International Film Festival Foundation to create the Marrakech/Tribeca Filmmaker Exchange programme which will host 16 Moroccan and New York students, who will benefit from several workshops on filmmaking.
Students will have two weeks of intensive coursework and location shooting in Marrakech. Four students with works-in–progress will benefit from training with an experienced film director or professor.
The trained students will then be able to show their completed short films at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.
Martin Scorsese with the cooperation of Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami will be offering master classes. They will be joined by actor Jeffrey Wright and filmmakers from both the US and Morocco to present a series of events which aim at aspiring filmmakers from both countries to work together and learn from each other while learning the filmmaking process.
The President of the Marrakech International Film Festival Foundation, HRH Prince Moulay Rachid, considers this new programme as an important step to unite talented US and Moroccan filmmakers.
The Tribeca Film Insitute was founded in the wake of September 11th to educate, entertain, and inspire filmmakers and film lovers alike. The Institute creates innovative programmes that draw on the power of film to promote understanding, tolerance and global awareness.
This year, the Festival is held in five locations. 'Le Palais des Congrès', which includes the two "Salle des Ministres" and "Salle des Ambassadeurs", is the Festival's true center. It will be restricted to international and Moroccan professionals, who will be able to discover film in and out of competition, tribute films, "special favourite" films, and Spanish Cinema Panorama.
The closing ceremony will be marked by Enrico Oldoini's film “Tredici A Tavola.”
The International Film Festival of Marrakech, on account of the historical and cultural predisposition of the city in which it takes place, aims to be a dialogue between cultures, and a factor promoting mutual understanding through one reconciling expression: the Cinema.
The first Marrakech event was a muted affair in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, while the second edition was still searching for its own identity. The third festival has proved a worthy movie meeting with a rich mix of filmmaking talent from different countries. The fourth edition has come to maturity, as HRH Prince Moulay Rachid said. He added that Marrakech Film Festival has become the “window of Morocco, a country firm in its values and resolute in its options while open to the outside world.”
Last year's edition honoured public idols of world cinema. They included the committed Egyptian film-maker Youssef Chahine, famous observer of Egyptian society and of its mutations and questioning; Claudia Cardinale, who was the muse of directors who have written the 7th Art's magnificent pages from Federico Fellini to Henry Hathaway, Richard Brooks and Sergio Leone; and Sir Sean Connery, a Scottish actor and Shakespearean who, in addition, has seduced all the generations of film fans since 1962. Sean Connery has portrayed characters which have made him one of the most