Marrakech Film Fest: 'Very Big Shot' Takes Top Prize

Courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival
'Very Big Shot'

The Francis Ford Coppola-led panel uniquely awarded a special jury prize to every other film in competition.

The 15th Marrakech International Film Festival closed Saturday, awarding Lebanese director Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya's Very Big Shot its Golden Star.

Jury president Francis Ford Coppola opened the ceremony and unusually chose to award the top prize first.

"Together we saw 15 films," he said of his fellow jurors, directors Naomi Kawase, Anton Corbijn and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, actresses Olga Kurylenko, Amal Ayouch and Richa Chadda and actors Sergio Castellito and Sami Bouajila.

The jury went through the remaining director and acting prizes before Coppola announced the extraordinary decision to award all of the films with a jury prize. He noted that the decision was not unanimous, but by majority vote.

Coppola said the unusual move to award all the films stemmed from his "love of all cinema," a lesson taught to him by his granddaughter Giancarla. "I realized any true cinema originating from pure motives is beautiful. It’s so hard to make a film, doing it requires labor for years under the most difficult circumstances and against hopeless odds," he said.

The Oscar-winner said the competitive nature of media tears down filmmakers. "It’s no sooner born than it’s immediately criticized and torn apart," he said. "Festivals meant to celebrate films soon become marketplaces where critical journalism takes pleasure in making and breaking careers. And our world is much like that — we call it dog-eat-dog."

Coppola noted that on the same night that the COP21 climate treaty was signed in Paris, the world should celebrate together. "These are times when we human beings can accomplish any goal, however difficult, by working together," he said.

Coppola concluded: “Yes, ladies and gentleman, this year’s jury prize is for cinema itself." He then read out each of the films and directors, briefly praising each for its unique quality and welcoming each filmmaker on stage in turn.

Before announcing the jury prizes, the director, actor and actress prizes were awarded.

The best directing honor went to Gabriel Mascaro for Neon Bull. The film is a co-production from Brazil, Uruguay and the Netherlands.

Gunnar Jonsson was named best actor for his performance in Virgin Mountain. "I would like to thank the jury for seeing beyond my exterior and seeing my beauty — I'm not just my looks," he said, before breaking into "Happy Birthday" to honor director Dagur Karimark.

Best actress honors went to Galatea Bellugi for her role in Guillaume Senez's Keeper.

Except for the Golden Star-winner, all films were awarded the joint jury prize, including Visar Morina’s Babai, Stephen Dunn’s Cop Car, Jon Watt’s Closet Monster, Jonas Cuaron’s Desierto, Michael Noer’s Key House Mirror, Keiko Tsuruoka’s Lingering Memories, Sina Ataeian Dena’s Paradise, Jawad Rhalib’s Rebellious Girl, Park Suk-Young’s Steel Flower, Raam Reddy’s Thithi and Zhassulan Poshanov’s Toll Bar

Earlier in the week, Coppola and his daughter Sofia presented Bill Murray with a career tribute from the festival. 

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