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Marrakech: ‘Rock the Kasbah’ Opens 15th Fest

‘Remember,’ ‘White Knights,' ‘Truman’ in 2015 fest, which closes with 'Carol'

The 15th Marrakech Film Festival – which positions itself as a Mecca of world cinema – will screen 93 films from 33 countries, with special emphasis on emerging filmmaking nations.
As in previous editions, Marrakech showcases high-profile pics and A-list talent, including jury prexy Francis Ford Coppola and career tribs to thesps Bill Murray and Willem Dafoe.

Barry Levinson’s “Rock the Kasbah” will open the fest and next Friday’s opening ceremony includes a career tribute to “Kasbah” lead, Murray. Closing film will be Todd Haynes’ Cannes-player “Carol.” Atom Egoyan will screen his Holocaust survivor thriller “Remember,” integrated within Fest’s country tribute to Canada. Joachim Lafosse, president of the Fest’s short film jury, screen “The White Knights,” set in Chad’s civil war.

Other out-of-competition films screening in the Red City include Julien Leclercq’s crime thriller “Braqueurs,” from France, Bill Condon’s Sherlock Holmes-retirement drama, “Mr. Holmes,” Cesc Gay’s Toronto/San Sebastian-player, the friendship-themed comedic drama “Truman,” (Spain/Argentina) Sergio Castellitto’s romantic drama “You Can’t Save Yourself Alone” (Italy) and Youssef Britel’s historical drama “The Green Drama” (Morocco).

Notwithstanding the list of high-profile pics from established filmmaking nations such as France, U.K. and the U.S., for the purposes of official selection, the Fest’s organizers state that they consider there to be a lack of original works from such nations, in comparison with countries that have a smaller cinematic heritage, which “present works that are more powerful, more surprising, and ultimately more accomplished.”

This year’s 15-film Official Selection focuses on first and second films, including seven world premieres, which the organizers consider are “somber, hard-hitting, often blending subject with form, disrupting to better display a new order.”
Upcoming Spiderman-helmer Jon Watts will screen his Sundance-player, psychological thriller, “Cop Car,” starring Kevin Bacon, accompanied by Stephen Dunn’s LGBT debut film, “Closet Monster,” that won Best Canadian Feature Film at Toronto this year, Mexican immigration drama, “Desierto”, by “Gravity” co-scribe Jonas Cuaron, which won a FIPRESCI Special Presentations prize at Toronto, and Brazilian Gabriel Mascaro’s sensual Venice/Toronto-player, “Neon Bull,” about a rodeo stable hand with fashion world ambitions.

Films from Asia include Keiko Tsuruoka’s coming-of-age drama “Lingering Memories,” from Japan, South Korean Park Suk-young’s Busan-player “Steel Flower” about a homeless young woman, and Raam Reddy’s freshman pic, “Thiti,” an India-U.S. partner production.
Films from emerging filmmaking nations include Jawad Rhalib’s emigration drama, “Rebellious Girl,” produced out of Morocco and Belgium, Sina Ataeian Dena’s “Paradise” about a young female teacher trapped in Iranian bureaucracy, an Iran-Germany co-pro, Kazakh Zhassulan Poshanov’s “Toll Bar” about the rich-poor divide and Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya’s drug drama “Very Big Shot,” produced out of Lebanon and Qatar.

Marrakech’s Cinema at Heart sidebar features Belgian gang drama “Black,” by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, Pablo Agüero’s “Eva Doesn’t Sleep,” co-starring Gael García Bernal, about the extraordinary odyssey of Eva Peron’s cadaver, “Family Film,” by Czech director, Olmo Omerzu, WWII-pic “Memories of the Wind” from Turkish director Özcan Alper, Jacques Trabi’s immigration drama “No Regret,” an Ivory Coast-France co-pro, and “Rising Voices,” from Belgium, by Bénédicte Liénard and Mary Jiménez, about asylum-seekers, and Ahmed Boulane’s military thriller “La Isla,” produced out of Morocco and Spain.

The 15th Marrakech Festival runs Dec. 4-12.

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