Friday, November 12, 2010

Marrakech Film Festival Update

Ben Mendelsohn and Laura Wheelwright in Animal Kingdom

When Morocco's 10th Marrakech Film Festival announced its 15-film competition lineup, the surprise inclusion was David Michod's Australian crime thriller "Animal Kingdom" that won Sundance's World Dramatic Competition winner. The Festival once again showcases new talent from around the world, including 10 debuts.

Moroccan helmer Talal Selhami's psychological thriller "Mirages" will get its world premiere while Italian Claudio Cupellini's tense thriller "A Quiet Life" and Park Jung-bum's drama about North Korean defectors, "The Journals of Musan," will get international premiers

Other highlights include Philip Seymour Hoffman's helming debut, "Jack Goes Boating"; Vanja d'Alcantara's stark WWII survival film, "Beyond the Steppes" (Russia); and two foreign language Oscar nominees -- Feo Aladag's mother-and-son drama, "When We Leave" (Germany) and Alexei Uchitel's epic war drama "The Edge" (Russia).

Our top pick

Here at The View from Fez, our pick of the Festival is the intense drama of Beyond the Steppes which, set in 1940, tells the story of Nina, a young Polish woman, who is deported with her baby by the Soviet Army to the remote and inhospitable lands of the USSR. She has to work in a Sovkhoz guarded by the Russian political police. When her child becomes ill, she sets out on a search of medications with a group of Kazakh nomads. Gritty stuff, but a superb film which draws the intimate and personal experience of this woman, forced into exile, in her struggle against the extreme conditions of this inhuman land.

Marrakech has carved a distinctive slot in the crowded fest diary and plans an ambitious 10th anniversary bash, including a visit by five past jury presidents Charlotte Rampling, Volker Schlondorff, Alan Parker, Milos Forman and Barry Levinson who will join this year's prexy, John Malkovich.

The festival runs Dec. 3-11.

No comments: