People who are new to Morocco may think that Marrakech is merely maximising on a popular commercial trend. But, just the other side of the Atlas mountains on the Marrakech to Ouarzazate road lies the world's largest film studios. Over 300,000 square feet of studio space. Loved by directors for the space available and for the clear light that the area affords. Films such as Black Hawk Down, Kingdom of Heaven, The Mummy, Kundun and Gladiator have all been shot in the studio or in the vicinity. No wonder that Marrakech should host a celebration of film.
The 12th International Film Festival opens tonight. The chair of this year's jury is the British Director John Boorman. This year the festival showcases 80 films from 21 countries. !5 of the films are participating in the competition centred around the theme of discovery and include A Hijacking, The Attack and Gone Fishing.
The festival also includes a tribute to Hindi films. With Bollywood celebrating 100 years next year the Marrakech Festival is the first to honour the achievement. There is also a short film competition for first time directors who can win 300,000 dirhams towards a second film.
In Jemma El Fna the local residents are encouraged to watch movies on a giant screen with Hindi films featuring every night of this year's festival.
The festival finishes on December 8. Visitors during festival time are welcome to join the celebration but if visiting after the close of the festival you may wish to consider a trip to the studios at Ouarzazate. Approximately 3hrs and through beautiful Atlas scenery.
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