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20th Marrakech International Film Festival kicks off in Morocco

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The 20th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival successfully kicked off at the weekend at the Palais des Congrès in the Ochre City, Morocco, with a plethora of distinguished figures from the world of cinema, art, culture, and media.

The weeklong festival which kicked off under the watchful eyes of King Mohammed VI, and will run till December 2, began with the customary procession of festival attendees, including Moroccan and international film greats who graced the red carpet with colourful klieglights, with American actress Jessica Chastain serving as the president of the jury.

Among the awarded are Danish actor, Mads Mikkelsen who was honored with a career achievement award for his remarkable contributions to films like “Another Round,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” and “Casino Royale,” where he portrayed a memorable James Bond villain.

In an interview with journalists after receiving his award, Mikkelsen expressed gratitude to the organisers.

Marrakesh welcomed Scandinavian filmmakers ten years ago by paying tribute to them. So we have a shared history, and they have helped us to make a name for ourselves. We are very grateful to them,” he said.

Mélita Toscan du Plantier, Director of the Marrakech International Film Festival, highlighted this year’s packed programme with strong films and great directors, noting that the festival would feature a predominantly female jury, with six women and three men.

British actress, Tilda Swinton also emphasized the importance of film festivals, saying:

“Film festivals celebrate the opportunity in cinema to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and to reach a kind of agreement about the human experience. So film festivals are always valid.”

The opening film, Richard Linklater’s action-comedy, “Hit Man,” set a lively tone for the festival, while over 70 films, including Michel Franco’s “Memory” starring Jessica Chastain, and Matteo Garrone’s Italian immigration drama “Io Capitano,” are expected to be showcased at the event.

Moroccan Prince, Moulay Rachid, who is leading the foundation responsible for the festival, while delivering his welcome speech, emphasized that it served as an invitation for discovery, empathy, and sharing.

He added that despite challenges like Israel’s war with Hamas and a recent earthquake in Morocco, the organizers aimed to showcase cinema from Morocco, the Middle East, and Africa.

“The Marrakech International Film Festival stands as a bastion of peace, bringing people together for discovery, empathy, and sharing,” he said.

Culture

Director of ‘Dahomey’ Mati Diop shines at Berlin Film Festival 2024

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Senegalese-French writer and and director of African documentary movie, “Dahomey,” Mati Diop, made history when her movie was selected for a special world premiere at the 2024 Berlin Film Festival.

She was joined by other directors of African descent including Gildas Adannou, Habib Ahandessi and Joséa Guedje at the premiere where Kenyan Hollywood actress, Lupita Nyong’o became the ever black person to head the festival’s jury.

“Dahomey” which is one of Africa’s entry in this year’s festival, is a documentary that explores colonization through the return of stolen artifacts plundered by French colonial troops and returned to Benin in West Africa.

Dahomey” follows the journey of plundered artifacts taken by French colonial troops in 1892, being sent from Paris to the Republic of Benin and the impact of their return.

Other African films selected for the festival include “Black Tea” by Mauritanian-born Malian director Abderrahmane Sissako, and “Who Do I Belong To” by Tunisian-Canadian director Meryam Joobeur.

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Tanzanians protest against Nyerere statue

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Some Tanzanians have taken to social media to protest against a recently unveiled statue of their founding father, Julius Nyerere.

According to them, the statue “does not look like” him.

The African Union (AU) had unveiled the statue in honour of the revered Tanzania founding president outside the Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

At the unveiling of the statue at a ceremony attended by numerous African heads of state, AU Commission leader Moussa Faki Mahamat said:

“The legacy of this remarkable leader encapsulates the essence of Pan Africanism, profound wisdom, and service to Africa.”

However, some Tanzanians have criticized the statue which they believe does not look like the pan-Africanist who led what is now Tanzania which was then known as Tanganyika, from independence in 1961 until 1985, a played a key role in the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which later became the African Union.

A user on X, Maria Sarungi, who expressed her disappointment at the statue wrote:

“I know the gesture counts the most, but this statue’s face bears little or no resemblance to Mwalimu Nyerere (old or young),” she wrote.

Another user who was not happy with the simply said:

“That is not our Nyerere.”

Known as Mwalimu, a Swahili word for teacher, Nyerere is remembered for uniting the country made up of more than 120 different ethnic groups, including Arab, Asian and European minorities.

He did this by promoting the use of Swahili as a common language and through his vision of Ujamaa (Familyhood) and his version of “African Socialism.”

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