Marrakech International Film Festival Announces its Official Selection

These films are screening in several sections: the Official Competition; Gala Screenings; Special Screenings, The 11th Continent, a Panorama of Moroccan Cinema, Cinema for Young Audiences, screenings on Jemaa El Fna, and Tributes to figures of world cinema, the organizers said in a statement on Thursday.

The Official Competition, a selection of first and second feature films, reveals new talent in world cinema, adds the statement, noting that of the 14 films in competition, 10 are by first-time directors, of whom eight are women.

Thirteen countries are represented, among them three Latin American nations (Brazil, Chile, and Colombia), three European countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and the United Kingdom), five from the Middle East and Africa (Madagascar, Morocco, Senegal, and Palestine), as well as Mongolia, Turkey, and the USA.

The films in the running for the Étoile d’Or explore a variety of cinematic genres, from modern fable, documentary, and film noir to political farce, romance and family drama.

“The 14 filmmakers selected for the Official Competition have produced remarkably mature cinematic works that consider questions of education, the transmission of memory and national history, and that paint a portrait of young people in search of meaning and freedom,” said the same source.

This 20th edition of the festival opens with director Richard Linklater’s fast-paced comedy Hit Man, starring the charismatic Glen Powell. A blend of action film and romantic comedy, this hilarious film is set to be one of the biggest hits of the year.

This year’s six Gala Screenings present regional premieres of some of the most eagerly awaited international films of the year. Italian director Matteo Garrone attends the festival with I, Captain (Io Capitano), a contemporary odyssey that tells the story of two Senegalese youths on an adventurous journey to Europe. Michel Franco presents Memory, a deeply moving film featuring an unforgettable turn by Jessica Chastain, who serves as President of this year’s jury. Australian actor Simon Baker attends Marrakech with Ivan Sen’s Limbo, an ultra-stylish, black-and-white thriller in which the star of The Mentalist is transformed.

Three Gala screenings bring comic relief to the festival: Étoile d’Or-winner Alexander Payne returns to the Marrakech International Film Festival with The Holdovers, a tender comedy driven by a trio of deeply moving performances. Moroccan director Faouzi Bensaidi will present Deserts, his mystical and ludicrous western-like take on ultra-liberalism. The gala sessions will close with Cédric Kahn’s Making Of, a behind-the-scenes social comedy starring the irresistible Jonathan Cohen.

Special Screenings feature 16 contemporary films, including several by prestigious directors including Nikolaj Arcel, Bertrand Bonello, Monia Chokri, Agnieszka Holland, Ladj Ly, and Alice Rohrwacher. The programme also showcases new talents world cinema with Animalia, Sofia Alaoui’s fantastic and poetic fable, Europa by Etoile d’Or-winner Sudabeh Mortezai, and Gabor Reisz’s Explanation for Everything, a captivating work about education. Two exciting actors attend with their latest films: Isabelle Huppert, who appears in Elise Girard’s Sidonie in Japan and Merve Dizdar, whose role in Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s About Dried Grasse saw her win the Best Actress award at this year’s Festival de Cannes.

Comprised of 13 innovative drama and documentary films, the 11th Continent programme opens up dialogue between contemporary films and classic works that have been at the forefront of the history of cinema. The selection features the latest works by critically acclaimed filmmakers Kleber Mendonça Filho, Lisandro Alonso, and Mona Achache, as well as films by a new generation of daring auteurs, including Alain Kassanda, Rosine Mbakam, Vlad Petri, and Eduardo Williams.

The Panorama of Moroccan Cinema offers a chance to discover six recent drama and documentary films from the festival’s home nation, two of which are world premieres: Khalil Zairi’s Mora Is Here and Hicham Lasri’s Moroccan Badass Girl. Moroccan cinema, which has been celebrated at some of the most prestigious film events throughout the year, has a significant presence throughout this year’s festival, with 15 films presented in its various sections.

To raise awareness among the film-goers of tomorrow, the Cinema for Young Audiences programme features 13 screenings dedicated to young people aged 4 to 18.

The festival comes to life on Jemaa El Fna square in the heart of Marrakech with a programme of popular films presented by leading personalities.

Finally, the Tributes programme offers a selection of films featuring or made by the personalities to whom the festival pays homage this year. These screenings take place at the Palais des Congrès, the Cinéma le Colisée, and on Jemaa El Fna square, rounding off the event’s selection of 75 films.



The 20th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival, taking place from November 24th to December 2nd, presents a selection of seventy-five films from 36 countries.
02 November 2023