June 23, 2024

“Casino Royale” Bond villain Mads Mikkelsen and Moroccan actor-director Faouzi Bensaïdi will be celebrated with career achievement awards at the upcoming 20th Marrakech International Film Festival that will run Nov. 24- Dec. 2.

The fest, which is forging ahead despite the Israel-Hamas conflict that has caused cancellations of several other fests in the region, as well as the earthquake that hit the country in September, has also recruited an impressive lineup of international talents to hold onstage conversations, including Tilda Swinton, Viggo Mortensen and Willem Dafoe.

Mikkelsen, who in tandem with his Hollywood career has recently returned to making films in his native Denmark such as Thomas Vinterberg’s “Another Round” and Nikolaj Arcel’s “The Promised Land,” which is Denmark’s current Oscar hopeful, said in a statement that he is “proud, honoured and so fortunate, that in a short while I will meet friends and colleagues and some of my all-time heroes in beautiful Marrakech.”

Bensaïdi is one of Morocco’s most critically acclaimed directors and a Marrakech fest aficionado. His latest film is “Deserts,” a slapstick take on the Western genre involving two Casablanca debt collectors that will have its regional premiere at the fest after launching from Cannes.

Also on the conversation roster are Australian actor and director Simon Baker (“Limbo”); French director Bertrand Bonello (“The Beast”); Indian filmmaker and producer Anurag Kashyap (“Kennedy”); Japanese auteur Naomi Kawase (“Radiance”); and Oscar-nominated Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev (“Leviathan”). 

As previously announced, Richard Linklater’s action comedy “Hit Man” has been set as the fest’s opener. Italian director Matteo Garrone is expected to make the trek for the gala of his Venice-prizewinning immigration drama “Io Capitano” and Michel Franco will be coming to present another Venice prizewinner, “Memory,” starring Jessica Chastain, who is presiding over the fest’s main jury.

A major cultural event in Morocco, Marrakech is one of the only international festivals of this scale where screenings and masterclasses are free and open to the public.

Among previously announced special guests is Martin Scorsese, who will be coming to serve as official patron of the Atlas Workshops, the festival’s industry initiative which is aimed at fostering and supporting the emergence of a new generation of Moroccan, Arab and African filmmakers.

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