Quotes: MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

Morocco's movie center seeks return to glory days  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - Arab Times - 15/04/2014
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN - Arab Times) Arzazate morocco march 28 (afp): ouarzazate in southern morocco was once dubbed a center of the film industry for its studio facilities and the stark beauty of its locations with many hollywood blockbusters shot there. 'laurence of arabia' (1962 peter o'toole omar sharif) 'the sheltering sky' (1990 debra winger john malkovich) 'kundun' (1997 martin scorcese) 'gladiator' (1999 russell crowe oliver reed) and 'babel' (2006 brad pitt and cate blanchett). all of them feature scenes shot at ouarzazate which lies at the foot of the scenic high atlas mountains. but that was then and this is now. its film industry is in the doldrums needing fresh winds to get it moving again. the famous town lost its appeal to international film-makers as economic crisis and the turmoil of the arab spring swept across the region. as the north african winter ends and some snow still graces the mountain peaks a small group of people attends a casting call at studio atlas one of the town's largest. ouarzazate's lengthy affair with showbiz has life in it yet.

'i began going to the cinema in 1967' says larbi agrou who was in 'asterix & obelix: mission cleopatra' in 2000. 'for the past three or four years there's no longer been a rush by producers to get their films shot. 'most people who work in films here also have other trades to keep them going ? farmers blacksmiths carpenters. but without tourism and the cinema ouarzazate would be dead' he says.

revival

agrou says the first encouraging signs of a revival appeared last year and that 2014 'is starting rather well'. ouarzazate is known for attracting big-budget historic epics with large casts and already nicole kidman and tom hanks have visited since the beginning of the year. 'let's hope it lasts' says aziz another hopeful at the casting call rubbing his hands. 'there are already four films in production here.'

and that means work for hundreds of people in ouarzazate. in 2005 alone mega-productions such as 'indigenes' (days of glory) by rachid bouchareb and robert dornhelm's 'the ten commandments' were filmed there. fast forward to 2010 the year the arab spring broke out with an uprising to oust a dictator in tunisia and nothing on a similar scale was shot at ouarzazate between then and last year.

a major factor behind that according to moroccan film critic adil semmar was the rising insurance costs caused by security problems in the region notably after the arab spring uprisings. 'it has made the cost of filming in morocco more expensive for big companies so some films were shot in places like israel and spain instead' semmar said.

in an almost lunar landscape dotted with small oases the imposing tifoutout studio built by italians in 1994 'is now a ruin' says resident said soussou. robert m young's 1995 film 'solomon and sheba' starring halle berry and jimmy smits was shot there but the italians then 'sold it to our tribe when they left in 1997. because of the crisis of recent years some parts are dilapidated' says another commentator mohamed hbibi. 'there are more crows here now than film-makers.' with a decrepit wall as a backdrop soussou looks up at the ceiling of a half-destroyed dome that was used for david betty's tv movie 'the bible project' in 2009. 'tifoutout can look like the architecture of ancient jerusalem' he says. 'but there is little value in that any more.'

'even when a film-making company does arrive it fixes the bit it's interested in gives the tribe five or six hundred euros and then leaves again' he says. most of the movie income has gone on 'building a mosque and irrigation ditches.' ouarzazate's fortunes contrast with the boom morocco's own heavily state-funded movie industry is enjoying with 22 feature films made in the past year compared with around five a decade ago. celebrated recent productions include 'god's horses' by the french director of moroccan origin nabil ayouch which won a prize at cannes in 2012.

another was 'they are the dogs' by director hicham lasri which won a special jury prize for arab features at the dubai international film festival in december. like most moroccan films however these are low-budget movies about the gritty realities of life in the north african country with little need for expensive desert studios says semmar the film critic. abderrahman drissi deputy president of the ouarzazate film commission grouping representatives of the moroccan cinema centre and the tourism ministry believes the authorities have a responsibility 'to save this beautiful plateau.' but he also remains optimistic about the future. 'the diversity of locations means it's easy to sell to major producers' he says.


 


Arab Times




  MENA News Headlines
 May 29 2015 - Palestinian Man Dies of WoundsQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) Palestinian medical sources announced the death of a 55- year-old Palestinian man Said Annadi from Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip of serious wounds suffered in the ...

 May 29 2015 - Syrian opposition groups take over Idlib from gov't forcesKuwait News Agency (KUNA)
(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) A group of Syrian opposition groups have assumed control of the town of Ariha in the northwestern Idlib province after fierce fighting with government forces, ...

 May 29 2015 - Qatar announces death of coronavirus-infected nationalKuwait News Agency (KUNA)
(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) The Supreme Council of Health (SCH) has announced that the death of a 73 year-old national after being infected by the Middle East respiratory syndrome ...

 May 29 2015 - Twin blasts rock "tightly guarded" Baghdad hotels: 10 killed, 28 woundedKuwait News Agency (KUNA)
(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) At least 10 people have been killed and another 28 wounded in dual explosions that hit two hotels in Baghdad.An explosives-strapped car drove through the Sheraton ...

 May 29 2015 - Bahrain announces arrest of terror suspectKuwait News Agency (KUNA)
(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) The Bahraini Interior Ministry announced Thursday the arrest of a fugitive terrorist and the confiscation of a large quantity of weapons in a warehouse in ...

 May 29 2015 - EU seeks stronger energy cooperation with GCC - officialKuwait News Agency (KUNA)
(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) A top EU energy official has stressed that the 28-member European bloc is keen in boosting its energy cooperation with the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council ...

 May 29 2015 - UN has failed to protect civilians in conflicts - Ambassador Al-OtaibiKuwait News Agency (KUNA)
(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Disputes among UN permanent member states is aggravating civilians' suffering and causing violations of human rights, said Kuwait's Permanent Delegate to the UN ...

 May 29 2015 - His Highness the Amir of Kuwait congratulates Nepal on National DayKuwait News Agency (KUNA)
(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent on Thursday a congratulatory cable to the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ...

 May 29 2015 - Kuwaiti FM meets visiting counterpartsKuwait News Agency (KUNA)
(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah met with Turkmenistan's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign ...

 May 29 2015 - His Highness the Kuwaiti Amir congratulates Ethiopia on National DayKuwait News Agency (KUNA)
(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent on Thursday a congratulatory cable to President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia ...

more...


 






Google

Arab Advisors_12th convergence conf

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary


Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2014 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help