Ayouch docu 'My Land' nabs two prizes

Chicago-based Moroccan docu filmmaker Hakim Belabbes won the Grand Prix for film diary “In Pieces” at the Moroccan National Film Festival on Saturday.

Morocco increasingly rivals Egypt as the biggest film producer in the Arab world and the festival has become a significant showcase for local talent.

Nineteen films competed in its Official Selection this edition.

Morocco’s best-known auteur, Nabil Ayouch, took best original music (Adil Aissa) and editing kudos (Ruth Litan, Keren Ben Rafael and Safaa Baraka) for docu “My Land,” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The editing award is particularly significant at a time of upheaval in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, and highlights Morocco’s more liberal outlook.

“Two of the three editors on the film are Israelis,” Ayouch said.

“This is the first time that an Arab country has awarded a prize in a national film festival to Israelis. I couldn’t believe it when I heard it.”

Desert chiller “Mirages” by freshman Talal Selhami — which world preemed at the Marrakech Festival in December — won cinematography (Mohamed Sellam) and actress plaudits (Meryam Raoui).

Omar Lotfi, star of local hit “Casanegra,” garnered best actor for his perf in love story “Libres d’aimer” by Abdelhay Laraki.

“Short Life” by Adil El Fadili, about religious tolerance, won best short.

The Moroccan National Festival ran Jan. 21-29.

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