Tilda Swinton, Naomi Watts open the Marrakech Film Festival

Updated 30 November 2019

Tilda Swinton, Naomi Watts open the Marrakech Film Festival

  • The Marrakech Film Festival kicked off Friday with a moving speech by jury president Tilda Swinton
  • After her speech, the festival was officially declared open by Australian actress Naomi Watts

DUBAI: The Marrakech Film Festival kicked off Friday with a moving speech by jury president Tilda Swinton.

The festival, which launched in 2001, opened with a selection of clips broadcast on the big screen — including snippets of the 14 films screening in the Official Competition sections.

Before Swinton took to the stage, clips were shown from her films, including “Orlando,” “Snowpiercer,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

 “The Marrakech Film Festival is a legend,” she said. “It’s a beacon for cineastes around the world who come from all stretches of our planet to meet under the African sky, which gives its blessing on all us. It’s a privilege to be here.”

Swinton said that having grown up in a “cinema-less part of Scotland” her first visit to a film festival, 1985’s Berlin Film Festival, was a life-changing experience.

 “This empathy machine invites us to walk in the shoes and the lives of other people and is good for us all. Its all-embracing nature holds up the best of our dreams and dispels our fears, so that we can share our wildest imaginations in the healthiest way possible. Cinema is our chance to suspend time and space and everything that divides us. It immerses us and transports us. To unbuckle, listen and celebrate our differences and also our similarities.”

She also praised her fellow jury members — David Michôd, Andrea Arnold, Chiara Mastroianni, Rebecca Zlotowski, Mikael Persbrandt, Kleber Mendonça Filho, Atiq Rahimi and Ali Essafi.

After her speech, the festival was officially declared open by Australian actress Naomi Watts, who underscored the “exceptional gathering of my fellow actors, directors and friends and delighted festival goers. This year offers us the opportunity to discover the extraordinary breadth and diversity of Australian cinema.”

The ceremony was followed by the screening of Rian Johnson’s murder mystery “Knives Out.”

The festival runs until Dec. 7.


‘Love on the Spectrum’ is heartfelt, authentic and real

Updated 15 August 2020

‘Love on the Spectrum’ is heartfelt, authentic and real

DHAHRAN: Right on the heels of “Indian Matchmaking,” Netflix acquired streaming rights to Australian dating show “Love on the Spectrum” for a global audience. While these releases offer minority groups visibility and representation in mainstream media (the Indian diaspora and adults on the autism spectrum, respectively) the latter takes a nuanced and thoughtful approach to matchmaking.

“Love on the Spectrum” is also a refreshing departure from the Netflix brand of glamorous, hypersexual reality TV as endorsed by “Too Hot to Handle” and “Love is Blind,” both of which were released earlier this year.

First released on the Australian Broadcast Corp. last fall, the unscripted show follows seven singles on the autism spectrum as they look for love and companionship, and two autistic couples as they make momentous relationship decisions.

“Love on the Spectrum” is also a refreshing departure from the Netflix brand of glamorous, hypersexual reality TV. Supplied

Unobtrusive and done respectfully, the show offers insight into their lives and vulnerabilities — what autism on the spectrum looks like for each individual, the challenges they face in social situations, and why they seek companionship. Alongside heart-warming interviews with participants and their families, the episodes feature first dates, mixer events and sessions with autism or relationship experts.

The highlight of the show remains raw human emotions and the participants’ endearing personalities that shine through. One cannot help but laugh out loud at 25-year-old Michael’s one-liners that double as sage advice.

The highlight of the show remains raw human emotions and the participants’ endearing personalities. Supplied

But while these “quirks” seem loveable and endearing to a neuro-typical audience, autistic audiences have voiced that in their quest to make a show interesting, these snippets romanticize high-functioning autism and disregard Level 3 autism (the most severe). They have also voiced a desire to see an autistic and non-autistic pairing.

At the outset, a show that follows autistic young adults in the dating world may not seem like something one can relate to. But as the five-part docuseries unravels, one can agree that the universal experience of navigating the dating world and finding love is difficult — autistic or not. With awkward first dates and heartbreak, “Love on the Spectrum” is heartfelt, authentic and real, and therein lies the appeal of the show.