Marrakech Festival pays respect to Egyptian cinema

Next year Morocco will fete 50 years of film by marking the anniversary of Mohamed Ousfour’s 1958 feature “Le Fils maudit” (The Damned Son), but for now the Intl. Film Festival of Marrakech is reserving the honors for Egypt.

A 40-film tribute to 100 years of Egyptian cinema is one among highlights of the fest’s seventh edition, which is screening veteran director Youssef Chahine’s latest, politically charged “Chaos” alongside his 1969 classic “The Land.”

Marrakech isn’t the best place to scout Moroccan talent — festivals in Tangier and Casablanca have a tighter focus on local films — and, true to tradition, the fest is fielding only one Moroccan pic in competition, Latif Lahlou’s “Les Jardins de Samira,” which already snagged a critics’ prize in Montreal.

But the fest has established itself as international, intensely contemporary and committed to filmmaking of high quality.

“We should all be citizens of the world, but it is difficult to do,” says Bruno Barde, the fest’s artistic director since 2004. “Of course Marrakech is beautiful, but it is hard to organize a new festival there. The only thing that can make a difference is to show good films in good theaters. We’ve made a bet on quality in Marrakech.”

The 15 films in competition boast healthy doses of Eastern European and Asian fare, while the Coup de Coeur sidebar places special emphasis on women and conflict in Arab and African societies.

Jury

Milos Forman — director of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Amadeus” and “Man on the Moon.”

Shekhar Kapur — director of “Elizabeth: The Virgin Queen” and “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”; copious credits as an actor, writer and producer.

Parker Posey — indie darling and actress, “Dazed and Confused” and “Waiting for Guffman.”

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