'Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio' to kick off Marrakech Film Festival

The highly anticipated return of the Moroccan festival, the first full edition in two years, will also feature the latest work by James Gray, Maha Haj, Tarik Saleh and Yasmine Benkiran.
'Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio' to kick off Marrakech Film Festival

From November 11-19, 2022, the Marrakech International Film Festival will present a wide selection of world cinema. Seventy-six films from 33 countries are presented in several sections: the Official Competition, Gala Screenings, Special Screenings, the 11th Continent, a Moroccan Panorama, Cinema for Young Audiences, open air screenings on Place Jemaa El Fna (including Indian gems from Anurag Kashyap, who brings his latest work for Morocco, and Zoya Akhtar) and films screened as Tributes to personalities of Moroccan and world cinema.

True to the Festival's positioning, as the Cannes of the MENA Region, the Competition presents films by directors making their first or second feature films in order to discover and promote new talents in world cinema. Among the 14 films selected, 10 are first-time features and 6 are by women directors.

It is a wide-ranging selection from 14 countries, including two from Latin America (Brazil and Mexico), three from Europe (France, Portugal and Switzerland), four from the MEA region and its diaspora (Morocco, Sweden/Somalia, Syria, Tunisia), as well as films from Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Iran and Turkey.

Among them, Ashkal by Youssef Chebbi from Tunisia, Savage (Amina) by Ahmed Abdullahi from Sweden, Snow and the Bear by Selcen Ergun, the Turkish film fresh from its Antalya win, and The Taste of Apples Is Red (Ta’am al-tufah, ahmar) by the Druze filmmaker Ehab Tarabieh, a Syrian/Israeli co-production.

Exploring cinematographic genres from fantasy to film noir, and featuring period films, social dramas, thrillers and melodramas, the films competing for the Étoile d’Or address subjects that reflect the concerns of the younger generations around the world: the construction of identity, the need for role models, and the place of women in contemporary society, but also questions of passing down knowledge, whether that knowledge is of tradition, political heritage or simply love.

Opening the festival will be Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio, co-directed with Mark Gustafson, the latest work by the Academy Award winning filmmaker of The Shape of Water and Pan's Labyrinth. This stop-motion musical animated film re-imagines the adventures of the beloved wooden puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy.

This year’s Gala Screenings feature international premieres by respected filmmakers, such as James Gray’s Armageddon Time, Neil Jordan’s Marlowe, Tarik Saleh’s Boy from Heaven and Paul Schrader’s Master Gardener, as well as internationally acclaimed films such the Palestinian comedy-drama Mediterranean Fever by Maha Haj; The Sitting Duck, a captivating thriller from France starring Isabelle Huppert; and The Swimmers, a British-Egyptian selection that tells the true story of two sisters who fled Syria to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games.

Special Screenings include 15 contemporary films from around the world -- from Iceland to India to South Korea -- made by critically acclaimed filmmakers and coming from presentations at the most prestigious international film festivals. Among the directors featured will be France’s Alice Diop, the UK’s Joanna Hogg, Austria’s Marie Kreutzer and Iran’s Jafar Panahi, as well German/Turkish filmmaker Fatih Akin and France's Philippe Faucon, both of whom shot their films in Morocco.

The 11th Continent section presents bold and innovative films that challenge cinematic representations. The program of 12 fiction, documentary and archive films opens a cinematic dialogue between contemporary cinema coming from countries including Brazil, Lebanon, Paraguay, Rwanda and Spain, and two recently restored film classics that in their time were at the forefront of Arab and African cinema. Among the works featured are Brazilian/Algerian filmmaker Karim Aïnouz's Mariner of the Mountains (Marinheiro das Montanhas) and Polaris by Ainara Vera.

The Moroccan Panorama presents five of Morocco’s recent fiction and documentary films. Opening the selection is the world premiere of Summer Days, the most recent film from Faouzi Bensaïdi. Moroccan cinema has a strong presence this year, with a total of 15 films appearing in the various sections of the festival.

With the intent of increasing awareness among the audiences of tomorrow, the Cinema for Young Audiences section offers schoolchildren the opportunity to discover cinema through nine dedicated screenings.

The festival comes to life on the legendary Jemaa El Fna square, which has been featured in films from all ages and filmmakers (remember the pivotal scene in Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much) in the heart of the city of Marrakech, with a program of popular films presented by international celebrities, among them Anurag Kashyap, who will present the world premiere of his most recent film, Almost Love.

Completing this year’s rich selection of 76 films is the festival’s Tributes program, a presentation of films made by or starring international and Moroccan personalities, screened at the Palais des Congrès, the Cinéma du Colisée and on Jemaa El Fna square.

For more information, check out the festival's website.

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