Wednesday, December 12, 2007
SHEIK AND CHIC IN MARRAKECH
The King of the world met the King of Morocco as the Marrakech International film festival rolled out its red carpets in the “Red City” for the 7th annual celebration of global cinema. Under the patronage of King Mohammed VI, the fest kicked off Friday Nov. 7 with hommages to Leonardo DiCaprio and Moroccan director Mustapha Derkaoui followed by a royal screening of “Elizabeth: The Golden Age.”
Director Martin Scorcese made his way to the mean streets of Marrakech to honor his star actor during the lavish ceremony at the city’s Palais des Congres. “When I come back to Marrakech, I feel like I’m coming home,” Scorsese told the crowd. The director also gave a Masterclass the following day for public and professional cinephiles.
“Cinema for me is the great modern art form. It allows us for limited moments to escape ourselves and be transported to alternative circumstances,” DiCaprio said accepting his honor. Festgoers too were all able to escape to sunny Morocco as the laid-back atmosphere provided a welcome change from the awards season frenzy in the rest of the world.
Speaking of laid-back… Marrakech is officially the only film festival I have attended where I didn’t see one film! I had quite a wonderful weekend of sun, souks and stars.
The stars were all out under the Arabian night sky from American actor Matt Dillon to French actresses Marie-Jose Croze and Marina Hands, not to mention Milos Forman’s high profile eight-strong jury including John Hurt, Parker Posey and French director Claude Miller. Dior held a lavish dinner during opening weekend, Canal Plus Cinema held daily poolside director’s lunches, Dessange made sure everyone was well-coiffed and what glamorous film festival would be complete without a visit from Catherine Deneuve? I wined and dined my way through the city from the swank très French Café de La Poste to the more authentic Moroccan Tangia to the Costes look-a-like La Villa Rossa. Then went for some Fez-abulous dancing at Pacha and the Jad Mahal. A hammam/gommage/massage at the Hotel Sultana turned my skin to fine porcelain and my body to jello.
Yet behind all of the glitz, festival organizers made sure to shed the spotlight on its panorama of global film. Egyptian cinema blew out its 100th birthday candles and a retrospective of the Moroccan films of 2007 screened as a sidebar to the diverse competition line-up with titles from 23 countries including Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi’s “Actresses” from France and Tamara Jenkins’ “The Savages” from the US. James Mangold’s “3:10 to Yuma” and Florent Emilio Siri’s Algerian War drama “Intimate Enemies” screened out of competition.
“The festival is really growing year after year. Even the Festival de Cannes wasn’t as big as us after seven years!” the festival’s artistic director Bruno Barde told me.
Theaters were packed throughout the week and crowds swarmed to the Place Jemma El Fna for a series of open air screenings including a special visit from Scorcese and DiCaprio who came to the city’s large bustling marketplace center to present “Aviator.”
“Marrakech is a unique opportunity to meet directors and authors from the Maghreb region. It’s a bridge between Morocco and France,” Canal Plus’ Director of Acquisitions of French films Manuel Alduy said.
Barde agreed. “Marrakech isn’t a market for buyers and sellers. It’s an economic platform where people meet each other and talk about movies,” he said.
From the herds of cinephiles who descended on the city from all over Morocco to the professionals and talent from all over the world, the Marrekech International Film Festival’s 7th edition certainly gave everyone something to talk about.
Just a three hour plane ride from Paris, Marrakech is a completely different culture, filled with beautiful landscapes, friendly people and the most amazing mint green tea I’ve ever had. Not to mention that everything there is half the price it is in Paris. So shout out to King Mohammed VI and His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid for the couscous-coolest weekend ever.
Actor of the week: Gilles Lellouche
You can read my interview with him in the soon-to-be on newsstands January issue of French PLAYBOY, but if you can’t wait….voilà le scoop. Gilles Lellouche is THE it boy of the moment here in Gaul. Matt Damon may have been chosen PEOPLE magazine’s Sexiest Man of the Year but the Sexiest FRENCH Man of the Year is by far Monsieur Lellouche (no relation to Claude Lelouch, mind you – this bad boy’s got his own blood boiling.) Sorry Guillaume Canet, but your BFF has replaced you in my heart. (which is OK since I hear you and a certain rumored to be Oscar-nominated actress are seeing the world through rose-colored lenses together these days? Cough cough.) Not only is the ubiquitous actor in pretty much 99% of all movies out in Gaul currently and soon to be released, but he also directs and writes … not to mention he’s très handsome and incredibly charming. His first film as a director, “Narco,” is on tap for a remake in the US through Spyglass Entertainment so I think what he needs is a remake by an American in the way of loooove (I have someone in mind!) He’ll soon be starring in the on-screen adaptation of Frederic Beigbeder’s popular novel “Love Lasts for Three Years” but I believe that our love willl last forever. No just kidding, but I’d take 3 hours to start!
A few Lellouchalicious quotes from the interview:
“I’m capable of foolish acts if I love a woman. That’s what romantic comedies are all about. It’s all about the acts. In the movies, we see people who do things out of the norm, out of the box all for love. I think that love merits nothing less than that, to be outside of the box.”
“I’m profoundly in love with Paris… It’s truly a city that I love and that’s in my blood. I stop when I’m on my scooter when the sun goes down over the Seine. I’m still blown away by the city.”