Coppola Jury Prizes Complete Marrakech Competition

Chaired by Francis Ford Coppola, jury awards Jury Prize to all 15 films up for the Marrakech's Golden Star, won by ‘Very Big Shot’

In a landmark decision that nevertheless caught the inclusive spirit of 2015’s 15th Marrakech Festival – if somewhat overshadowing other awards – a Francis Ford Coppola-chaired jury gave its Jury Prize – and effective second biggest award – to all the 15 films in competition.

In what was termed a “special announcement,” on stage and visibly moved Coppola cited the competition titles and their merits in brief descriptions one by one, concluding “this year’s jury prize is for cinema itself.”

“These are times human beings can accomplish any goals by working together,” Coppola said. In that spirit, the jury had decided to give a collective plaudit, which was “new and fresh,” he argued, justifying the jury’s unusual decision.

The Coppola jury decision serves to highlight a competition that is purposefully diverse in the geographic origins of titles and forefronts talent to track that has caught attention during 2015. 12 of the 15 movies in competition, ranging from Jonas Cuaron’s “Desierto” to Brazilian Gabriel Mascaro’s singular “Neon Bull,” which won Best Direction, are first or second films.

Marrakech’s top plaudit, its Golden Star Festival Grand Prize, went to Beirut-set comedic crime thriller “Very Big Shot,” from Lebanon’s Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya. One of the most commented-on debuts at Marrakech, which bowed at Toronto, “Very Big Shot” caught attention both for its “Argos”-echoes and, inevitably after the Paris and San Bernardino attacks, violence set in an Arab world context, though “Very Big Shot” plays out for most of its length as a crime caper.

Gunnar Jonsson took best performance by an actor for “Virgin Mountain,” from Iceland’s Dagur Kuri; best actress went to Belgium’s Galatea Bellugi for “Keeper,” another talked up first feature – like “Very Big Shot” – directed by Guillaume Senez.

Mascaro’s sensual “Neon Bull” turns on a cowpoke who’s a wannabe fashion designer, but is more an original – and sexed-up and sensual – social portrait than traditional aspiration drama.

Already praised for his “extraordinary performance” by Variety’s Ronnie Scheib, Jonsonn plays a gentle giant who falls in love in “Virgin Mountain.” In “Keeper,” “evincing huge potential” for helmer Senez, said Variety’s Andrew Barker, Bellugi plays a pregnant teen whose same-aged b.f. is determined to keep the child.

Marrakech’s 2015 competition took in eight feature debuts – Visar Morina’s Kosova-to-Germany emigration drama “Babai,” admired at Karlovy Vary, Stephen Dunn’s LGBT title “Closet Monster,” which was Toronto’s 2015 Best Canadian Feature, Sundance hit “Cop Car,” from Jon Watts, Senez’s “Keeper,” Sina Ataeian Dena’s ironically titled “Paradise,” about a young teacher embroiled in bureaucracy in Iran, Raam Reddy’s Indian village-set drama “Thithi” and Kazakh Zhassulum Poshanov’s “Toll Bar,” set against the background of the rich-poor divide in Almaty.

Also in the Marrakech competition mix were four second features: “Desierto,” an novel Mexico-U.S. border immigration action thriller, “Neon Bull,” already a prizewinner at Venice Horizons and Rio, Moroccan Jawad Rhalib’s emigration drama “Rebellious Girl, “ and Busan-screening “Steel Flower,” about a young homeless, from South Korea’s Park Suk-young.

“Virgin Mountain,” Michael Noer’s “Key House Mirror” and coming-of-age drama “Lingering Memories,” from Japan’s Keiko Tsuruoka, completed the competition.

Coppola’s jury took in helmers Anton Corbijn (“Life”), Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet”), Naomi Kawase (“Still the Water”), actor-director Sergio Castellitto (“You Can’t Save Yourself Alone”), actress-producer Olga Kurylenko (“Quantum of Solace”), and thesps Richa Chadda (“Gangs of Wasseypur”) and Amal Ayouch (“The Gospel of Mark”).

One of the biggest events in the Arab and Africa film world, the 15th Marrakech Festival ran Dec. 4-12.

Elsa Keslassy contributed to this report



“Very Big Shot,” (Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya, Lebanon, Qatar)


All films in competition


Gabriel Mascaro (“Neon Bull,” Brazil, Uruguay, Netherlands)


Galatea Bellugi (“Keeper,” Belgium, Switzerland, France)


Gunnar Jonsson (“Virgin Mountain, Iceland, Denmark)


“La Jeune fille qui venait de nulle part” (Reda Jai, Morocco)

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Leads Crowded Weekend With $21 Million

    The Bean Bag Boys, the self-appointed nickname for the trio of best friends in Universal’s “Good Boys,” are conquering much more than sixth grade. They are also leading the domestic box office, exceeding expectations and collecting $21 million on opening weekend. “Good Boys,” which screened at 3,204 North American theaters, is a much-needed win for [...]

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content