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MARRAKECH — The Red City rolled out the red carpet for the star-studded opening ceremony of the Marrakech International Film Festival, including a tribute to Sharon Stone and jury president Martin Scorsese praising the country where he has shot two films.
“It’s good to be home again,” he said in prepared remarks for the ceremony that was translated into Arabic, English and French and broadcast live on Moroccan state television. “It’s like being home in Marrakech. But this festival is also a different kind of home, a precious home for cinema, as you can tell by the roster of names in attendance this year.”
Among them are his jury — actresses Marion Cotillard, Patricia Clarkson, Golshifteh Farahani and directors Paolo Sorrentino, Amat Escalante, Anurag Kashyap, Fatih Akin and Narjiss Nejjar who joined him on stage — as well as others including James Gray, Nicolas Winding Refn, Terry Gilliam and Hirokazu Koreeda who will also be attending the festival’s events.
Adding some international flare, each of the jury members declared the festival “officially open” in their native language, bringing Farsi, Hindi, French, English, Korean, Spanish, Arabic and Italian to the stage.
The ceremony then turned to into a tribute for Stone, presented by her Casino director Scorsese.
“What is the definition of stardom, not fame, but true stardom?” he asked the audience, reflecting on the qualities of legends Great Garbo and Humphrey Bogart.
“Sharon is brilliant, extremely talented, fearless, charming, funny and absolutely wild, and she’s a true star. When she walks in a room the energy changes,” he said, calling working with her “a great adventure.”
“There are two words that could have gotten me on a plane from India to Morocco with my three children, Martin Scorsese,” said Stone, who had been doing charity work for AMFAR in Mumbai.
“The Marrakech film festival has given us the opportunity to bring together cultures from around the world to show our creative spirit and also for us to see the true spirit of peace and compassion in a Muslim country, which is extraordinarily important at this time in the world. I am grateful, humbled and honored to be here to receive this award at this particular time in history,” she said, thanking King Mohammed VI who is set to fete the star at a dinner later this evening.
The ceremony closed with Indian director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and actress Deepika Padukone presenting the opening film, the current Bollywood smash hit Ram-leela, which has taken in $23.5 million so far since its Nov. 15 opening.
The week-long festival will broadcast eight hours of festival programming daily on state television, with films and interviews until the closing ceremony Dec. 7.
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