'Beclouded,' 'Beyond the Steppes' tie for jury prize

Marrakech– First-time helmer Park Jung-bum’s “The Journals of Musan,” about a North Korean defector, has won the Golden Star for film at the 10th Marrakech Film Festival, which wrapped Saturday.

The film had its international premiere at Marrakech after winning Pusan’s New Current Award in October.

“Musan” will benefit from an automatic $50,000 pick-up from local pubcaster SNRT, for Moroccan distribution rights.

Artistic director Bruno Barde selected 10 debut features and three sophomore outings for this year’s 15-pic competition line-up.

Mexican coming-of-age tale “Beclouded,” by Alejandro Gerber Bicecci, and Belgian WWII drama “Beyond the steppes” by Vanja d’Alcantara tied for the jury prize.

Ensemble acting kudo was another tie, going to David Michod’s Sundance-winner “Animal Kingdom” and Feo Aladag’s mother-and-son drama, “When We Leave.”

Marrakech showcased a galaxy of Hollywood stars, including Eva Mendes, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and a French cinema tribute attended by 44 actors and helmers, including Catherine Deneuve, Costa Gavras, Marion Cotillard and Sophie Marceau.

“Directors and actors try to avoid events like Cannes, because of the media feeding frenzy, but they love coming to Marrakech,” said fest director, Melita Toscan du Plantier. “Here they can mingle and share their passion for cinema.”

Keanu Reeves flew in for the opening weekend and filmed interviews with guests for his documentary, “Side by Side,” about digital filmmaking.

Harvey Keitel waxed lyrical as he received his career tribute, saying, “When I hear your evening call to Allah, I sense my own longing to connect with Allah.”

Marrakech is becoming increasinglyimportant for Moroccan cinema and the event is now the principal annual meeting place for the local industry.

Looking to the future, organizers hope to extend the event’s master classes and training activities into a year-round program.

Fest VP, Noureddine Sail also floated the idea of developing an Arab/African film market at Marrakech in the next four-to-five years, building on the growing business relationships forged by the event.

“I’d like to maintain the same level and pace we’ve achieved this year,” Toscan du Plantier said. “This festival is all about passion and new talent. Robert Redford has said he’d love to come to Marrakech, because it has elements in common with Sundance. We share the same dream.”

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