Iranian Drama ‘A Tale of Shemroon’ Scoops Top Prize At Marrakech

Iranian director Emad Aleebrahim-Dehkordi’s feature directorial debut A Tale Of Shemroon won the top Étoile d’Or—the Festival Grand Prize – at the Marrakech International Film Festival on Saturday.

The feature, which was among 14 first and second films competing in the festival’s main competition, world premiered in the San Sebastian’s New Directors section earlier this year.

Set in contemporary Tehran, the timely work revolves around two brothers living with their invalid father, and still reeling from their mother’s death.

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The older brother hits on a moneymaking scheme to break out of the family’s humdrum existence which brings him to contact with the city’s gilded youth, but things do not go to plan.

Oscar-winning Italian director Paolo Sorrentino was president of the jury this year, joined by British actress Vanessa Kirby German actor Diane Kruger Australian director Justin Kurzel, Lebanese director and actor Nadine Labaki, Moroccan director Laïla Marrakchi and French actor Tahar Rahim.

The Jury Prize was awarded ex æquo to Portuguese director Cristèle Alves Meira’s Alma Viva and Moroccan filmmaker Maryam Touzani’s The Blue Caftan. Both films are Oscar entries this year for the directors’ respective countries.

The Best Directing Prize went to Swiss director Carmen Jacquier for the drama Thunder set in a remote mountain village in the early 19th century.

Best Actress went to Choi Seung-Yoon for her role in Riceboy Sleeps by Canadian director. Anthony Shim. Arswendy Bening Swara scooped Best Actor for his performance in Indonesian drama Autobiography by Makbul Mubarak.

The 19th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival marked its return after a three-year, two-edition hiatus due to the pandemic.

Over the course of the 10-day event, more than 150,000 spectators attended 124 film screenings at the Marrakech Palais des Congrès, the Cinéma Le Colisée, on Place Jemaa El Fna and at the Musée Yves Saint Laurent.

Another 20,000 people were accredited and received electronic badges to attend the festival— almost double the number of accreditations recorded for the 18th edition in 2019.

Additionally, nearly 5,000 children and teenagers attended screenings held for young audiences.

As in previous editions, the 2022 edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival reserved a special place for Moroccan cinema with a programme that honoured a new generation of filmmakers whose works are critically acclaimed both at home in Morocco and around the world.

Local films enjoying buzzy screenings included Yasmine Benkiran’s debut feature Queens, Fyzal Boulifa’s second film The Damned Don’t Cry and Fragments from Heaven, the first feature by Adnane Baraka.

The festival also feted veteran Moroccan director, screenwriter and producer Farida Benlyazid with a career tribute. Other cinema figures receiving career awards included Indian mega-star Ranveer Singh and actress Tilda Swinton.

“Cinema shows us who we are, in our great diversity. It reflects our desires, our failures, our triumphs and our dreams,” said Swinton in her acceptance speech. “Long live cinema and long live difference!”

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