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.