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Marrakech Film Festival Returns With Star-Packed Opening Night

After being interrupted last year, the Marrakech Film Festival returned with a bang for the opening of its 17th edition.

A flurry of stars and industry figures graced the red carpet including jury president James Gray (“The Immigrant”), and jury members Dakota Johnson (“Suspiria”), who was wearing a glitzy pink gown, Lynne Ramsay (“You Were Never Really Here”), Laurent Cantet (“The Class”), Indian actress Ileana D’Cruz (“Barfi!”), Lebanese filmmaker and visual artist Joana Hadjithomas (“I Want to See”), Moroccan director Tala Hadid (“House in the Fields”), German actor Daniel Brühl and Mexican director Michel Franco (“April’s Daughter”).

The festival’s kickoff night also lured Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro, French helmer Agnes Varda, a festival honoree, English actor Robert Pattinson, French thesps Tahar Rahim and Melanie Thierry, Egyptian actress Yousra, American actress Blanca Blanco, Mexican actress Patricia Contreras, and Cannes Film Festival’s artistic director Thierry Fremaux, who will give a masterclass.

Gray opened the festival with a poignant speech that reflected on the current political turmoil in the U.S. “I’m an American and in this moment I feel a high responsibility to at least try to represent the best side of us – the open, the hopeful and thoughtful, and enlightened side,” said Gray, who has been at Marrakech twice before.

The filmmaker said the experience of being at the festival makes him feel “connected to another culture, another point of view and another idea of the world.”

The opening gala was followed by the screening of “At Eternity’s Gate,” which was presented on stage by its director (and renowned artist) Julian Schnabel, along with Swiss actor Vincent Perez and French thesp Vladimir Consigny, as well as the film’s co-writer and editor Louise Kugelberg.

The anticipated highlights of this year’s festival include the tributes to Robert De Niro and Varda, as well as the masterclasses with Martin Scorsese, Del Toro and Fremaux. Among the talent roster set to attend the festival are Monica Bellucci, Gilles Lellouche, Gael García Bernal, Viggo Mortensen and Gaspard Ulliel.

The Marrakech festival is run by a foundation presided by Morocco’s Prince Moulay Rachid, the brother of King Mohammed VI. The new programming team is spearheaded by Christoph Terhechte, the former head of the Berlin Film Festival’s Forum section.

The festival runs Nov. 30 to Dec. 8.

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