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Morocco, a “cinematic” destination

The famous American entertainment magazine “Variety” has highlighted the boom of foreign film shoots in Morocco, as well as the growing access of Moroccan film productions to the international.

“Morocco is becoming a popular destination for international film and television film shoots, while Moroccan talent produces film and television content that travels a great deal overseas”, the magazine says in an article published on its website.

Earlier this year, Morocco implemented a new 20% rebate program that, until November, allowed foreign productions to generate $ 60 Million in expenditures, up from $ 48 Million last year, reports the publication, quoting the Director of the Moroccan Cinematographic Center (CCM), Sarim Fassi Fihri.

The international productions shot in Morocco this year include 18 feature films and 16 television series, the magazine says, noting that some of the most important films this year include Ciro Guerra’s “Waiting for the Barbarians”, inspired by the writer’s novel South African JM. Coetzee, starring Johnny Depp and Robert Pattinson; “John Wick 3” by Chad Stahelski, with Keanu Reeves and Halle Berry; “Men in Black International” by F. Gary Gray, with Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson.

Among the major international television series touring the kingdom, the publication quotes “Baghdad Central”, produced by Euston Films; and “Zero Zero Zero”, an Italian-American series of creators of “Gomorrah”.

The total budget available for the rebate program in 2018 was $ 11 Million and Fassi Fihri said there are several producers who are waiting to file new projects in January 2019 to take advantage of them, the magazine adds.

In terms of national film productions, Moroccan films continue to maintain a high level of popularity among local audiences, says “Variety”, noting that Moroccan works have also secured a stronger presence at major international festivals this year, especially in the “Panorama” category of the International Film Festival of Marrakesh, such as “Sofia” by Meryem Benm’barek, “Jahiliya” by Hicham Lasri, “Stateless” by Narjiss Nejjar and “Volubilis” by Faouzi Bensaidi.

And to add that the two biggest local successes of this year, which occupied the first two places of the national box office, were the comedies “Korsa”, of Abdellah Toukouna, and “Lahnech” of Driss Mrini. Each of the two films recorded over 120,000 admissions and were scheduled for the opening and closing of the Marrakesh International Film Festival’s open-air screenings on the emblematic square of Jemaa el Fna. The other popular local films in 2018 are Nabil Ayouch’s “Razzia” drama and Noureddine Lakhmari’s “Burnout” thriller, each with more than 60,000 admissions.

After noticing that one of the main challenges of Moroccan cinema is the lack of screens, many dark rooms have been closed in recent years, the review reports the opening of new multiplexes soon, including an 11-screens of Megarama in Rabat in the spring of 2019.

The magazine also discusses the interests of international streaming platforms like Amazon and Netflix for local filmmakers, citing the example of Nabil Ayouch’s “Razzia” whose rights were sold to Amazon.

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