Marrakech — Bill Murray delivered a thoughtful and heartfelt speech in both French and English upon receiving a lifetime achievement tribute from the hands of Sofia Coppola during the opening night ceremony of the 15th annual Marrakech Film Festival.
After drawing laughter with a speech in broken French, Murray switched to a more serious and emotional tone to address the current turmoil that are shaking Europe, the U.S. and the Arab world.
“My heart is heavy because of the events in Paris, my heart is heavy because of the events in San Bernardino,” said Murray, who drew a long standing ovation when he arrived on stage.
“It’s a strange world right now, a very strange world,” added the actor, who spoke about the need for more love, empathy and understanding between people, regardless of their backgrounds.
“Each and every man and woman here on this planet is a manifestation of God and to that end we must all work,” said a visibly moved Murray, drawing a round of applauds.
“I usually turn down lifetime homages because it means you’re dying or very sick. And I only came here because it was here. … And because it’s this film (Barry Levinson’s “Rock the Kasbah”) and I wanted all of you to see it because it was filmed here in Morocco.”
Francis Ford Coppola, who presides the jury, was also on hand with fellow members 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 (“A Perfect Day”), and thesps Richa Chadda (“Gangs of Wasseypur”) and Amal Ayouch (“The Gospel of Mark”).
Coppola said “Morocco is one of his favorite places in the world.”
“My grand-mother was born in North Africa and she spoke French English, Italian and Arabic,” he said. “I believe Morocco is a magical land and I look forward to discussing with my friends here and being united in the friendship and creativity which are things that cinema has always encouraged.”
The homage also included a retrospective of clips from Murray’s cult movies — from “Ghostbusters” to “Lost In Translation,” “Tootsie” to “Groundhog Day” — and was followed by the screening of “Rock the Kasbah.”
The festival will show 93 films from 33 nationalities, including Kosovo (Vivar Morina’s “Babai,”), Korea (Park Suk-young’s “Steel Flower”), Iran (Sina Ataeian Dena’s “Paradise”), Mexico (Jonas Cuaron’s “Desierto”) and Liban’s Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya’s (“Very Big Shot”).