By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 11/17/2005 | 11:00 am
Marrakech --- The British film director, who presented his latest film 'Mrs. Henderson Presents' at the Marrakech International Film Festival's opening on Friday, said that his next film will be on Princess Diana legacy.
Almost 8 years have elapsed since Lady Diana, Princess of Wales died. Since then, the British monarchy appears to be on sounder footing than it was in the days immediately after her fatal car crash.
The Royal Family initially received harsh criticism from the British press and people for its handling of Diana's death. Monarchy vs democracy was also put into question.
Steven Frears' new film comes to discuss these issues. “My new film will discuss the issue of monarchy and democracy in Britain, old and new, especially after the death of Princess Diana,” Frears told Morocco Times.
Known for making provocative, stylized, and tightly budgeted films about people living on society's social and/or sexual fringes, Frears is renowned as one of Britain's most vibrant and recognizable filmmakers.
Asked about his focus on portraying the lives of working class people in many of his films, Frears told Morocco Times: “I just do scripts I like; it's as simple as that.”
He added: “That's the sort of tradition I grew up with. My life coincided with changes in society, and my thinking was influenced by that.”
Regarding his tendency to make films that branch into unfamiliar territory, Frears said that he likes "making films about different cultures. I'm interested in things that I've never encountered before. I try to put myself in the audience's position."
Concerning his participation in the Marrakech festival, Frears said that “the opportunity to come to Morocco is irresistible, and certainly not one any person could miss.”
Steven Frears has already shot his first film in Morocco, notably in Tangiers in 1967. He said he has little souvenir of this North Moroccan city since he worked there almost 3 decades ago, but expressed his willingness to come and shoot in Morocco one day.
Two major actresses appearing in Mrs. Henderson Presents, Judi Dench and Kelly Rilley, who accompanied Stephen Frears to the festival, expressed their satisfaction over working with such an interesting director as Frears.
“He is anarchic, spontaneous, likes surprises, and doesn't let you rest, but it is a pleasant experience to work with him,” the two actresses told Morocco Times laughingly.
As to the selection of Frears' films, he said he has chosen most of them by instinct. “I have no idea how I come to choose a particular script, it is unconscious. You just read the script and it doesn't take you a long time to decide when you feel it is wonderful,” Frears told Morocco Times.
“Mrs. Henderson Presents” is Frears' first musical comedy. For Frears “the film script is very original with a lot of vitality.” “Mrs. Henderson Presents is just wonderful film,” he added.
“Mrs. Henderson presents”, lovely musical comedy
Set in pre-World War II London, Mrs Henderson Presents is a loving portrayal of London's Windmill Theatre, whose motto "We never close". The out-of competition film, which stars Dame Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins, Kelly Rilley, and Will Young, was screened at the opening ceremony of the Marrakech International Film Festival, currently being held in Morocco's red city on Nov. 11-19.
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 were 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.
124 films screened in Marrakech festival
The festival will feature 124 films, 16 of them in competition, including 10 first or second features, from 15 different countries.
This 5th festival 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.
The festiva has attracted a fair smattering of European and Asian stars, including Catherine Deneuve, Judi Dench, Terence Stamp, Daniel Day-Lewis, Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel, Maggie Cheung and Rebecca Miller.
The festival, which opened with a screening of Stephen Frears' "Mrs. Henderson Presents", will close on Saturday with Enrico Oldoini's "Thirteen at a Table" (Tredici a tavola).
By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 11/19/2005 | 10:17 am
Marrakech---Ali n' Productions, headed by Moroccan director/producer Nabil Ayouch, held a conference on Thursday in Marrakech to present MEDA Films Development project (MFD), a new programme that aims at boosting cinematographic projects of the South Mediterranean countries.
Nabil Ayouch, head of Ali n' Productions, told a press conference that the project aims at promoting synergies between producers and scriptwriters of the MEDA countries (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey) and between MEDA and European producers.
Ayouch said that “in the MEDA countries, professionals of motion pictures face common problems in the development of cinematographic projects.”
“These problems are essentially linked to the lack of training in both scriptwriting and film production. Therefore, training these professionals will eventually improve filmmaking projects in the MEDA countries.”
Ayouch quoted Elia Kazan, an acclaimed filmmaker, as saying: to have a good film, we should have three major requirements: a good script... a good script .... a good script.”
Ayouch added that to have a good script, there should be a good scriptwriter behind it, and above all a good producer who knows how to provide material and moral working conditions for the scriptwriter.
“That's why we have thought of this project because we believe that a producer's role is not limited to film financing. He is also involved throughout all phases of the filmmaking process from inception to completion of a project. Therefore, he is a professional who should be totally aware of the artistic arguments of the project he defends.” Ayouch explained.
Highlighting the importance of the producer's work, the MFD programme aims at grouping together the scriptwriter and the producer in a joint exchange programme and train them to better communicate together for a better common work.
Every year, 10 producers from the MEDA countries, who are currently working on a length-feature film, will be selected for this programme. They will attend the workshops accompanied with the scriptwriter of the film. Ayouch said a total of 20 cinema professionals (producers and their scriptwriters) will benefit from 3 workshops (one workshop a year).
Nourdine Sail, director of the Moroccan cinematographic center said the whole objective of this programme is to make both producers and scriptwriter review their way of perceiving length-feature filmmaking, which will eventually improve the quality of films in the MEDA countries.
The major themes of the workshops will include scriptwriting, rights and contracts between the scriptwriters and producers, the producer's role, the artistic features of the filmmaking process, the marketing and communication aspect of the film, and the film distribution.
The selection committee of the MFD project has set a deadline (Jan. 31, 2006) for the submission of applications. By April 2006, MFD will begin its first workshops in Marrakech.
Financed by the European Union, the project will be implemented by Ali n' Productions in partnership with the Marrakech Film Festival Foundation and the Moroccan Cinematographic
By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 11/15/2005 | 12:52 am
Marrakech---Taxi Driver's director, Martin Scorsese, who was paid tribute to at the Marrakech International Film festival, has been decorated by King Mohammed VI for his numerous masterpieces.
Received at the Royal Palace in Marrakech on Monday by King Mohammed VI and his younger brother, Prince Moulay Rachid, the US filmmaker was decorated with the Wissam of al Kafaa Al Fikrya, Honour of the Intellectual Merit.
The Marrakech International Film Festival, currently being held in Morocco's red city, on Nov.11-19, is honouring the 63 year-old Scorsese with a retrospective of his work, including the two films he shot on location in Morocco: "The Last Temptation of Christ" and "Kundun."
Scorsese told Morocco Times, earlier on Sunday after a press briefing, that he might reconsider shooting in Morocco after finishing his Japan-set passion project “Silence”.
'Silence' is an adaptation of a Japanese novel by Shusaku Endo. It is the martyrdom-themed tale of two 17th century Portuguese missionaries who return to Japan to minister to Christians, who've been outlawed.
Scorsese admitted he'd wanted to direct the film after 'Gangs Of New York', but got distracted by 'The Aviator' and 'The Departed'.
"I hope it comes together. I've been trying to make the movie for 10 years," Scorsese said at the press conference
The US filmmaker also said he plans to stop directing Hollywood blockbusters and focus on documentaries and short films.
Scorsese added that he was getting old and did not want to spend his time making big pictures demanded by Hollywood studios.
At the festival to promote its new exchange program with the Tribeca Film Institute, Scorsese told Morocco Times that his primary objective in coming to the festival is to meet and share ideas with Moroccan cinema actors.
“I am trying to orient young film students to express their views and desires on the cinema, and I wish to see new films in Morocco that could inspire me one day,” he added.
Scorsese, along with Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami will be offering master classes for 16 young Moroccans and American film students, held, on Nov: 6-20, alongside the Marrakech film festival.
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 promoting filmmakers from both countries to work together and learn from each other, while learning the filmmaking process. 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.
Peter Scarlet, Tribeca Film Festival Executive Director expressed his satisfaction that two renowned filmmakers accepted to participate in this exchange programme.
“We're especially happy that two of the most influential filmmakers of our time have chosen to lend their efforts to this fledgling enterprise,” said Scarlet.
“They're united by a deep affection and respect for each other's work, and they've both been honored with the prestigious Golden Palm at Cannes,” he added.
Martin Scorsese, who was given the trophy on Friday by famous French actress Catherine Deneuve at the opening ceremony, was the centre of attention for both the Moroccan and foreign press.
Legendary Moroccan folk musicians, Nas el Ghiwane played their 'Ya Sah' song, which inspired the US director in his film, the 'Last temptation of Christ'. Omar Essayed, member of the el Ghiwane group, 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.
He 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 the North African country,” he said.
"I owe a great deal to Morocco, which has left a lasting impression on my work and my life," he told the opening-night audience on Friday.
Referring indirectly to current political tensions, Scorsese made an impassioned defence of world cinema.
"Now more than ever we need to talk to each other, to listen to each other and understand how we see the world, and cinema is the best medium for doing this," he said.
To honour him, 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'.
The festival has attracted a fair smattering of European and Asian stars, including Catherine Deneuve, Judi Dench, Terence Stamp, Daniel Day-Lewis, Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel, Maggie Cheung and Rebecca Miller.
The festival opened with a screening of Stephen Frears' "Mrs. Henderson Presents" and will close Saturday with Enrico Oldoini's "Thirteen at a Table" (Tredici a tavola).
Participants enjoy Hispanic night with Victoria Abril
By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 11/17/2005 | 6:20 pm
Marrakech---The 5th Marrakech International Film Festival has paid a special tribute to the Spanish Cinema. The delegation made up of about thirty Spanish actors and film directors was invited on stage at the sounds of Flamenco music. Spanish actress and singer Victoria Abril was the VIP guest of a Spanish night held to celebrate this tribute.
A total of 30 Spanish actors and film makers attended on Wednesday the special ceremony designed to honour the Spanish Cinema. These included José Garcia, Fernando Lara, José Juan Bigas Luna, Victoria Abril and others.
Acclaimed Moroccan filmmaker Farida Belyazid, who has just finished shooting her latest film 'Juanita de Tanger', presented the tribute ceremony.
The Director General of the Spanish Institute of Cinematography and Audio-visual Arts, Fernando Lara, told Morocco Times that “honouring the Spanish cinema in Marrakech is considered an open door for our cinema to reach Morocco and Africa.”
Talking about the Moroccan-Spanish cooperation in Cinema, Fernando Lara said “he believes there is a long way to go because there are rare co-productions with Morocco.”
“We have made several Spanish films in Morocco with the support of Moroccan producers and technicians, but this is insufficient. There must be other meetings like that of Marrakech to discuss possibilities of having strong production partnerships,” Lara told Morocco Times.
“I think we have to work together in this regard to develop our cinematographic and audio-visual relations in general,” Lara added.
The Spanish evening was marked by the screening of an out-of competition Spanish film 'Tapas'.
The film discuses simple human stories of residents of a Spanish neighbourhood; it is about love, friendship and human relations in general. Five different characters are tied to their daily routine in their places of work, mainly in bars, stores and supermarkets. These people show you their concerns, fears, hopes and dreams.
Retired, Mariano and Conchi, who live in the same neighborhood, fear diseases and loneliness; Raquel, a middle-age woman who experiences love by Internet, is both hopeful and sad. The future is uncertain for Cesar and Opo, two young men who work in the local supermarket and who are trying to organise their holidays. Lolo discovers that there is another world beyond his bar thanks to Mao, his new cook. All these feelings show us the lives of people in a working class neighborhood in a script full of tenderness, comedy and bitterness.
Wednesday evening was also marked by a special night at the “Pacha” nightclub, where the Spanish actress and singer Victoria Abril gave a vibrant concert, presenting a bouquet of her new songs.
Abril, however only performed for 20 minutes, stating that she wanted to keep the songs of her new Album a surprise for the Moroccan audience till December 1.
Victoria said she will hold a concert in Casablanca next month. The night also featured special flamenco music and dance.
The 5th Marrakech festival is holding a panorama of Spanish Cinema with a total of 41 films, emblematic of the Spanish film production of the past fifty years.
On Tuesday, Juan Vicenté Cordoba's "A golpes", a Spanish film in competition was screened. The film discusses how women continue to be marginalised in society.
Cordoba told a press conference after the film screening that he will start shooting a movie on immigration between Morocco and Spain. The film will tell the story of a young Moroccan from the town of Melillia, who immigrated to Spain.
By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 11/13/2005 | 11:12 am
Marrakech---HRH Prince Moulay Rachid, who presided over a dinner offered by HM King Mohammed VI in honour of figures of world cinema on Saturday, said that the fifth Marrakech International Film Festival (FIFM) 'has become a love meeting between a magical city and a devoted art'.
President of the FIFM foundation, Prince Moulay Rachid said in a message published in the festival's guidebook that the Marrakech Film Festival has become the “window for Morocco, a country firm in its values and open to the outside world.”
The Prince, who was accompanied by Their Royal Highnesses Princesses Lalla Meryem and Lalla Hasna, also highlighted the importance of cinema in bridging cultures.
At the dinner ceremony, guests were called to observe a minute of silence for Abderrahim Bouâlem and Abdelkrim El Mouhafidi, the two Moroccan employees of the Rabat embassy in Baghdad, who were kidnapped in Iraq last month.
The opening ceremony of the Marrakech International Festival, currently being held in Morocco's red city between Nov.11-19, was marked by a special tribute to the Moroccan-born actor Hamidou Benmassoud, alias Amidou, and the US Director Martin Scorsese.
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. He has also worked overseas along with outstanding and famous Hollywood actors including Brad Pitt, Silvester Stalone, and Michael caine.
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'.
The opening of the event was marked 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".
This year's 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.
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.”