You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Marrakech’s 11th Continent Challenges Stereotypes

As part of the Marrakech Intl. Film Festival’s reinvention for its 17th edition, artistic director Christoph Terhechte and his programming team created a section to challenge the cinematic representations of countries usually seen only through the lens of stereotypes. Looking for yet another dose of Latin American poverty porn? On the hunt for the umpteenth story about an Arab suicide bomber, or the latest titillating white slavery drama? Then the 11th Continent is not your destination, as the films in this section counter the kind of superficial socially aware programming that reinforce one-dimensional Western notions of first- and third-world nationhood.

The section opens at the Musée Yves Saint Laurent with a presentation of archival films from the EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, collectively titled “Views from Morocco and the Ottoman Empire.” Dating between 1902 and 1927, this compilation (curated by this writer) is part of a continuing project designed to discover the visual record of Ottoman-ruled countries and present selected films with live music in the regions where they were originally shot. A counterpoint is offered by Markus Schleinzer’s Toronto-premiered sophomore feature “Angelo,” telling the story of a young African slave in the 18th century “educated” by a European countess. Like many films in the section, both “Views” and “Angelo” call into question issues of representation, guiding audiences to confront how European ideas of the exotic other have filtered down and infected current prejudice.

The U.S. is also found in the 11th Continent, in the form of RaMell Ross’ Sundance documentary “Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” which poetically exposes the uneasy place occupied by African-Americans in a nation that’s never come to terms with its ingrained racism.

Other films in the section include Ghassan Halwani’s “Erased, Ascent of the Invisible,” about the thousands of missing people following Lebanon’s Civil War; “The Sound of Masks,” Sara CF de Gouveia’s docu-essay that deconstructs traditional ethnographic representations via its portrait of a dancer from Mozambique; and Phuttiphong Aroonpheng’s “Manta Ray,” a drama underlining the connections between communities too often torn apart by the forces of authority. Even Lee Chang-dong’s Cannes-winning “Burning” is included thanks to the intriguing, always unexpected way it calls into question the nature of mainstream narration.

Jay Weissberg is the Rome-based critic for Variety and director since 2016 of the Pordenone Silent Film Festival. He’s also co-curator of Views of the Ottoman Empire, a multi-year project to trace what silent-era footage survives from former Ottoman territories, research their production and distribution, and screen them in the locales where they were made.

More Film

  • 'The Apollo' Review: A Legendary Theater

    Tribeca Film Review: 'The Apollo'

    You should never take for granted a documentary that fills in the basics with flair and feeling. Especially when the basics consist of great big gobs of some of the most revolutionary and exhilarating popular art ever created in this country. Roger Ross Williams’ documentary “The Apollo,” which kicked off the Tribeca Film Festival on [...]

  • Playwright Mark Medoff author of "Children

    Mark Medoff, 'Children of a Lesser God' Playwright, Dies at 79

    Mark Medoff, the playwright who wrote Tony Award-winning play “Children of a Lesser God,” died Tuesday in Las Cruces, N.M. He was 79. His daughter Jessica Medoff Bunchman posted news of his death on Facebook, and the Las Cruces Sun-News attributed the cause to cancer. “Children of a Lesser God” starred John Rubinstein and Phyllis Frelich [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Interscope Films Relaunches With Full Slate at Tribeca (EXCLUSIVE)

    The Interscope record label’s interest in film/music crossover isn’t exactly a secret: With hit companion albums for “A Star Is Born,” “Black Panther” and “La La Land,” they’ve seemed to own the soundtrack space at times in recent years. And the company hasn’t completely made a secret of its desire to move into film production. [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame': Fans and Theaters Assemble for Biggest Marvel Movie Ever

    For San Diego resident Shawn Richter, “Avengers: Endgame” is more than the conclusion to a monumental period in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the West Coast branch chair of Avengers Initiative, a cosplay charity that raises money for causes like the Ronald McDonald House Children’s Charities, the comics of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are [...]

  • Jillian Bell appears in Brittany Runs

    Amazon's 'Brittany Runs a Marathon' Sets Summer Release

    “Brittany Runs a Marathon” will be rushing to theaters on Aug. 23. Amazon Studios dated the comedy on Wednesday. The pic, starring Jillian Bell (“Rough Night,” “22 Jump Street”), won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival. The flick follows the titutal Brittany, who decides to run around New York City in order to [...]

  • Lionsgate Hires Lynn Whitney in Marketing

    Lionsgate Hires Former Warner Bros. Exec Lynn Whitney

    Lionsgate announced Wednesday that Lynn Whitney will become head of worldwide paid media, partnerships, promotions and consumer products. Whitney was formerly the executive VP of worldwide media at Warner Bros.   In her new role, Whitney will build out media campaigns for movies like Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron’s romantic comedy “Long Shot.” “I am [...]

  • El silencio de otros

    Film Review: 'The Silence of Others'

    “Forgiven but not forgotten” is a platitude we routinely use to end disputes both petty and grievous, but it’s the reverse outcome — the mass forgetting of crimes and conflicts never truly resolved — that itches away at a post-Franco Spain in “The Silence of Others.” Soberly chronicling the ongoing legal battle of General Franco’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content