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Morocco: Burgeoning Mollywood

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Morocco, Arts & Culture, Economics & Business, Film, History, Travel

Morocco has long been a mecca for foreign filmmakers. Iconic films like The Last Temptation of Christ and Lawrence of Arabia, as well as more recent films Rendition and Black Hawk Down, use Morocco as their backdrop. Other films like Babel utilize more than Morocco's landscape, taking its culture and people into account as well. Morocco's own burgeoning film industry has produced international hits over the past few years as well: Nabil Ayouch's Ali Zaoua, prince de la rue [1] made waves abroad, drawing comparisons to the inimitable Brazilian film City of God, while 2006's MaRock [2] was particularly notable for its female director, Laïla Marrakchi.

Morocco's film industry hasn't escaped the blogosphere. European expat Marrakech Xanthe Pat shares [3] a bit of Morocco's film history:

After a bit of research, I was surprised to find that movies had been being made here from as long ago as 1897 ??? ( The Moroccan Knight by French Director Louis Luminere) admittedly a second isn’t noted for about 20 years, but after this there is a steady, almost yearly film being made by French, Spanish and German directors traveling down here to make all kinds of exotic sounding productions.

The blogger concludes by suggesting Morocco's film industry be properly named:

But what is it about Morocco…. Is it the diverse countryside the fact that we have mountains, dessert, staggering coastlines, fantastic historic architecture or the beautiful light and sunny climate that draws these film makers and artists here. Should we start using the title MollyWood. Are we becoming the new tinsel town of North Africa?

Morocco's blogosphere even has its own cinema blogger, Allal El Alaoui, who blogs at cinema and movies. In a recent post, the blogger profiles [4] the Meknes-Tafilalet film festival:

Although the festival of Meknès-Tafilalet 2008, spearheaded by Hassan Aourid,the Wali of Mekness, is deprived from technical backgrounds such as artistic director and technical co-ordinators for the benefit of the festival, there are things that are remarkably handsome and symbolic about this artistic event especially artists who show their talents upon the prison of Kara named also Qobat Assoufara which is something very iconic for the openess that Morocco is having, states Leila El Baaj, the president of Mekness association.

Morocco's film industry doesn't show any signs of stopping. The View From Fez recently reported [5] that Prince of Persia has started production in Oukaimeden, best known for being Morocco's (and perhaps Africa's) largest ski resort:

Icelandic actor Gísli Örn Gardarsson is currently in Morocco to play one of the main parts in the new Jerry Bruckheimer movie Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Shooting began yesterday. The film is based on the video game, which follows an adventurous prince who teams up with a rival princess to stop an angry ruler from unleashing a sandstorm that could destroy the world. He is expected to visit Fez during breaks in the shoot.

Next time you're at the cinema, keep an eye out for Morocco in the background!