Morocco / Tétouan International Mediterranean Film Festival

The 24th Tétouan Mediterranean International Film Festival, whose theme is “Cinema and Freedoms”, took place from March 24th to 31st. Under the patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, the event was created by the Fondation du Festival cinéma méditerranéen de Tétouan, the Institut français, the Bolloré Logistics Association, the Ministry of Education and various regional offices.

Greek director Dora Masklavanou won the Tamouda Award for best feature film for “Polyxeni”. Bojan Vuletic’s Serbo-Bulgarian co-production, “Requiem for Mrs. J”, won the special jury prize and the critics’ prize.

The Palestinian Mohammed Bacri won the Best Actor Award while Best Actress went to the Italian Luiza Ranieri for their performances in, respectively, “Wajib”, by Annemarie Jacir, and “Veleno”, by Diego Olivares. The Best First Film award went to the Georgian, Ana Urushadze, for her feature “Scary Mother”.

In the documentary section Tala Hadid, British-born with Moroccan roots, won the Grand Prix with “House on the Prairie”. The jury prize was awarded to the Italian Emiliano Dante Valentina for his film “Appenino”. Finally, Spanish directors Sofia Catala and Rosa Pérez Masdeu received the Best First Film award for “Colis suspect”.

In parallel with the festival there was a round table on the development and future of the Moroccan film industry, with the need for new distribution policies becoming a key issue. Moroccan films have difficulty reaching the public because many cinemas have closed and some of the Kingdom’s major towns no longer have one at all. Distributor Najib Benkiran maintains that while at production level Morocco has an excellent film policy, at the distribution level it does less well. Round table participants also emphasized the need to invest in training film professionals in all fields. They also noted the lack of private sector involvement, lack of industry-specific legislation, insufficient subsidies and a lack of genre diversity in Moroccan films. Film-maker and critic Mohammed Chrif Tribak suggested there should be a national institution to explore ways of promoting Moroccan films abroad, in order to open Moroccan cinema to foreign markets.

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