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‘Han Gong Ju’ wins Golden Star at Marrakech

Scorsese’s jury announces Official Competition winners

Lee Su-jin’s psychological drama “Han Gong-ju” won the best film Golden Star at Marrakech’s final award ceremony, held Saturday evening. The debut film by the young South Korean director had its international premiere at Marrakech.

The pic, that previously won kudos at Busan in October, is about a teenage girl Han Gong-ju (which in Korean can also mean princess) who has to overcome a traumatic experience that forces her to change schools.

This year’s 13th edition, under the aegis of jury prexy Martin Scorsese, boasted a stellar cast, including helmers such as Nicolas Winding Refn, James Gray, Abel Ferrara and Terry Gilliam, and thesps Sharon Stone, Marion Cotillard and Juliette Binoche.

The event has solidified its international media presence and is now seen as a valuable promotional springboard – which led Harvey Weinstein to make an impromptu first-time visit to the fest Friday, for a one-off screening of David Frankel’s “One Chance.”

Marrakech’s official competition focuses on revealing new voices in world cinema and the 15-film line-up included six debut features and three sophomore outings.

In further key kudos, Jeremy Saulnier’s Cannes hit “Blue Ruin” and Cuban Carlos Machado Quintela’s debut “The Swimming Pool” shared Marrakech’s Jury Prize; best director went to Andrea Pallaores for “Medeas”; Didier Michon and Slimane Dazi took actor for their perfs in French-Moroccan Hicham Ayouch’s “Fevers”; Alicia Vikander, the fast rising young Scandinavian star, nabbed actress for Lisa Langseth’s “Hotell.”

The award ceremony began with highlights of this year’s event which unusually included dance routines – Sharon Stone and Moroccan actor Mohamed Khouyi both danced as they received their career tribs and the Cinecoles jury also performed a rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” as they announced the award to the best short.

Prior to announcing the awards, Martin Scorsese thanked the directors with films in Official Competition: “The quality of your work is so good that it makes you realize that the future of cinema is really bright. I hope everyone has had as illuminating a film festival as I’ve had.”

Jury member and female Moroccan director, Narjiss Nejjar, announced the joint best actor award, stating that the performances by Didier Michon and Slimane Dazi gave the jury “the hope of a free cinema and a free country.”

Marion Cotillard then congratulated Alicia Vikander for her “very inspiring performance which moved us all and touched our hearts deeply.”

Taking the stage, Vikander thanked helmer Lisa Langseth: “I feel like you’ve given me the skills to evolve as an actress. I feel that my career started with you. Thank you.”

Finally, South Korean helmer Lee Su-jin said in his acceptance speech: “My main goal with this film was to give courage to all the Han Gong-Ju’s in the world who find themselves in the same situation.”

Scorsese’s jury and all the award winners took center-stage for a final bow before giving way to the closing film, “We are the Best!” by Lukas Moodysson.

The 13th Marrakech film festival ran Nov. 29 – Dec. 7.

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