tHE FESTIVAL

THE MARRAKECH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL :

A STAR IN AFRICA AND THE ARAB WORLD

The Marrakech International Film Festival was created in 2001 by His Majesty King Mohammed VI to promote and develop the art of cinema and the film industry in Morocco.

Today, after more than twenty years, the Festival is a place of expression and discovery that takes up the challenges of diversity, exchange and enrichment. It is also an opportunity for Morocco to welcome and pay tribute to great personalities of the world of film. The event attracts a large audience, both national and international, and benefits from a strong reputation and its prestigious image.

The Festival is further distinguished by its geographical location: Marrakech, whose history, values and international influence have long made it a destination city.

A BOUNTIFUL PROGRAMME :

DISCOVERING NEW TALENTS AND CELEBRATING GREAT PERSONALITIES OF WORLD CINEMA

A BOUNTIFUL PROGRAMME

The Marrakech International Film Festival is distinguished not only by the quality of its programming, but also by its editorial and artistic position, which provides a wide space for cinema. Every year, the Festival welcomes great personalities of world cinema to receive tributes or to participate in its In Conversation With programme.

The official selection features an international competition of first and second features dedicated to the discovery of filmmakers from around the world, as well as a wide selection of films of different genres from nations worldwide. The Festival’s several sections include Galas, Special Screenings, the 11th Continent—a section dedicated to bold and innovative films—a Panorama of Moroccan Cinema, Cinema for Young Audiences, and open-air screenings at Place Jemaa El Fna.

In 2018, the Festival launched the Atlas Workshops, an industry and talent development programme, whose mission is to support the new generation of Moroccan, Arab and African filmmakers and to create a space for exchange between international professionals and regional talent.

HISTORY OF THE FESTIVAL

2001

A BRAVE AND VISIONARY INITIATIVE, A KEY DATE IN THE HISTORY OF MOROCCAN CINEMA

2002 - 2003

A PROFESSIONAL ORGANISATION TO SUIT THE EVENT

2004

RESTRUCTURING THE FESTIVAL ORGANISATION WITH MORE LOCAL INPUT

2005 - 2009

AN INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL ON A HUMAN SCALE, DESIGNED FOR CITIZENS

2010 - 2015

THE AGE OF MATURITY AND COMMITMENT TO MOROCCAN CINEMA

2017

A YEAR OF REFLECTION

2018

ATLAS WORKSHOPS, FIRST EDITION

2019

MOROCCO AND THE MARRAKECH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: A CINEMATOGRAPHIC CROSSROADS OF CREATIVITY AND MOVING IMAGE

2020 – 2021

Festival postponed; Atlas Workshops conducted online

In order to comply with the health measures enacted by the Moroccan Government in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to protect all its stakeholders, the Marrakech International Film Festival Foundation cancelled the Festival in 2020 and 2021 and opted for a digital format for the third and fourth editions of the Atlas Workshops, its support programme for Arab and African film professionals

Created in 2018, over its four editions the Atlas Workshops platform has supported eighty-eight projects and films, several of which have gone on to win awards at prestigious films festivals—among them Ismaël El Iraki’s Burning Casablanca (2020), which won the Best Actress award in the Orizzonti section at the Venice Film Festival; Omar El Zohairy’s Feathers (2021), the first Arab film to win the Grand Prix in the Semaine de la Critique at the Festival de Cannes; and Khadar Ahmed’s The Gravedigger’s Wife (2021), which won the Gold Stallion at Fespaco and was Somalia’s first entry for the Academy Awards.
In eighteen years, the Marrakech International Film Festival has managed to find its place in the international calendar of major film events. It is now seen as a key gathering for filmmaking talent, industry executives and audiences from the Middle East and Africa and beyond, bringing together top- notch programming – including audacious discoveries and prestigious tributes professional screening facilities, a warm welcome, and respectful audiences eager to share their passion for cinema. Through this Festival they host, Marrakech and Morocco have together remained true to their ambitions of creating a land of promotion for local, national and international cinema: a land of film production.
Initiated in 2018 and dedicated to films from Africa and the Middle East, the Atlas Workshops represent the new Industry and Development programme of the Marrakech International Film Festival. Welcoming 250 international industry professionals and regional talents, the four-day Atlas Workshops are designed as a forum for exchange and a creative and professional platform for the new generation of African and Middle Eastern filmmakers, offering support for their first, second, or third feature length film (fiction or documentary).
The Marrakech International Film Festival Foundation held its board meeting and General Assembly on June 30, 2017, and the decision to reschedule the 17th edition of the Festival in 2018 was taken. This period was used to rethink the Festival and create a dynamic of change, with a new organizational structure and new tools, appropriate to the digital world, in order to serve the vision of the Festival and to achieve its ambitions. New goals have been set to allow the Festival to go further in its mission: not only the promotion of the Moroccan cinematographic industry, but also the opening of a window onto other cultures, which is one of the primary powers of the Seventh Art.
Acknowledged for the professionalism of its organization, the quality of its programming and its high-level guests, the Marrakech International Film Festival has joined the ranks of the world’s greatest film festivals. An international gathering and unrivalled place of exchange for the African continent and the wider Arab world, the event contributes to the development of creativity and co- productions, along with the emergence of a genuine Moroccan cinema culture and the promotion of national film production beyond national borders. Priority has been given to educational activities – notably through partnership with the Mediterranean writers’ workshop Meditalents and various conventions signed with certain European bodies, among them Meda Film Development and Euromed – and the promotion of short films with local audiences through a spotlight on Moroccan film schools and their students (around 20 schools and training institutes in the crafts of cinema and the visual arts to-date), in particular through the creation of the Festival’s Cinécoles Competition, generously funded by His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid. In 2015 the Foundation appointed Sarim El Haq Fassi Fihri as Executive Vice-President and Fadwa Megzari as General Secretary.
Over the years, the Marrakech International Film Festival has succeeded in asserting its own identity: a majestic ceremonial event with its own special charm, a warm welcome, an enthusiastic audience and an editorial line that is deliberately open to the wider cultural and artistic experience of world cinema. Prestigious juries made up of some of the top names in international filmmaking each year discern the Festival’s highest award – the Golden Star – which is presented to the best feature film in Competition. Some vibrant tributes have been paid to the cinematographic output of certain overseas territories, celebrated in the presence of high-level official delegations of actors, directors, and industry professionals. Other Vibrant tributes have been paid to outstanding film talents of today, from Morocco and elsewhere. Among the Festival’s audacious and unique initiatives is a scheme for the partially-sighted and blind to allow them to share the pleasure of cinema along with other festival-goers. This started in 2008, using audio-description during the screening of Moroccan and foreign films. In 2009, the first campaigns of eye surgery for disadvantaged people in rural areas were launched.
The Foundation then wanted to change its statutes and overhaul the organisation of the institution by setting up permanent offices for the Festival in Marrakech, nominating two new Vice-Presidents – Nour-Eddine Saïl, Director of the Moroccan Cinema Centre, and Faïçal Laraïchi, President and CEO of the SNRT – and the following year appointing Jalil Laguili as Secretary General, succeeding Abdellatif Laâssadi. In 2004, the joint organisation of the Festival was entrusted to the events agency Le Public Système Cinéma, represented by its President, Lionel Chouchan, and its General Director, Bruno Barde. Ten years later, the Foundation now has offices in both Marrakech and Rabat.
For the second edition of the Festival, His Majesty the King decided to create a non-profit organisation of public utility, the Marrakech International Film Festival Foundation, presided over by His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid, providing an institutional framework for the event and allowing for the professionalization of its structure and management. The Foundation then became the sole holder of rights resulting from the activities of the Marrakech International Film Festival. Under the supervision of the Foundation and its Vice- President, André Azoulay, Advisor to His Majesty the King, Festival President Daniel Toscan du Plantier ensured the joint organisation of its annual edition, and managed its staff within the company Georges Cravenne Conseil company (GCC) until his untimely death in February 2003. For the third edition of the Festival, his widow, Mélita Toscan du Plantier – Director of External Relations and Protocol of the first two editions – was appointed Director of the Marrakech International Film Festival.
Upon its creation in 2001 on the initiative of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, and despite the grim international context marked by the events of September 11 in New York City, from the outset Morocco wanted its brand- new festival to be both a prestigious platform dedicated to filmmaking talent and an intercultural bridge between nations. It was with this in mind that the choice emerged of the city of Marrakech – capital of the great Moroccan dynasties since the period of the Almoravids and the opening of Morocco to North Africa and Andalusia, but also a rapidly growing city with the infrastructure necessary to host an event with an international dimension. Eminent figures from the world of cinema from both sides of the Mediterranean were called upon to drive the idea of a festival that could live up to Morocco’s ambitions in the fields of cinema and audiovisual work. The French producer Daniel Toscan du Plantier – friend of the Kingdom and of Marrakech – combined his vision with that of his Moroccan partners and agreed to lead the team who breathed life into the first edition of the Marrakech Film Festival with his trademark passion, enthusiasm, and professionalism. Among the primary objectives of this new event were showcasing quality cinematographic works, thereby contributing to the artistic evolution of world cinema, the development of the Moroccan film industry, and the promotion of the image of Morocco throughout the world.