Mads Mikkelsen Joins Lineup of Stars at Marrakech Film Festival

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Mads Mikkelsen

"The Hunt" star will be on hand for a tribute to Scandinavian cinema and join Martin Scorsese, Marion Cotillard and Sharon Stone at the Moroccan festival.

PARIS – A little northern light will shine on Marrakech as Mads Mikkelsen will join the delegation attending a tribute to Scandinavian cinema at the 13th annual international film festival that kicks off in the Moroccan city Friday night.

The Scandinavian delegation that will be soaking up some sun also includes directors Nicolas Winding Refn (Only God Forgives), Bille August (Smilla’s Sense of Snow), Tobias Lindholm (A Hijacking) and Erik Poppe (A Thousand Times Goodnight). Noomi Rapace will be joined by The Master actress Lena Endre and Anna Karenina’s Alicia Vikander, and actor Soren Malling, who took home last year’s best actor trophy in Marrakech for A Hijacking.

The star-studded Scandinavian delegation, which will honor the region’s many contributions to international film on Dec. 4, is just one highlight of the festival’s weeklong celebration of cinema with nights of glamorous tributes and what has been called a “Cannes-level” jury chaired by Martin Scorsese.

The festival, launched in 2001, has become increasingly high-profile in recent years. It doesn’t host an accompanying market, but aims to be a week for film lovers, actors and directors to connect.

“The festival is like a movie. We have prepared for a year,” said festival director Bruno Barde, who compares this year’s star-studded lineup with the cast of a great movie. “We have written the script, and the opening day is the start of filming. We’ll say ‘action,’ and Martin Scorsese will open the festival.”

He added: “This year, where so many great filmmakers are present, it seems like Marrakech is a film.”

Joining Scorcese is an Oscar-worthy cast, including actresses Marion Cotillard and Patricia Clarkson, alongside this year’s Cannes best director winner Amat Escalante (Heli), Cannes 2008 jury prize winner Paolo Sorrentino (Il Divo), South Korean director Park Chan-wook, who helmed the original Oldboy, Indian director Anurag Kashyap, whose Ugly screened in this year’s Cannes Directors Fortnight, and Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani, who starred in the Un Certain Regard entry My Sweet Pepper Land.

Terry Gilliam will bring his highly anticipated The Zero Theorem to screen out of competition before it opens in the U.S on Dec. 19, and Refn and James Gray will be on hand to give master classes.

Also on the schedule are tributes to actress Sharon Stone, who will open the festival, as well as Juliette Binoche and Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, who won the jury prize at this year’s Cannes for Like Father, Like Son.

French star Francois Cluzet (The Intouchables), legend Charlotte Rampling (Swimming Pool) and the stars of the dueling upcoming Yves Saint Laurent biopics Pierre Niney and Gaspard Ulliel will spend time in the city where the late designer rests.

Morocco – once the backdrop for Lawrence of Arabia – has been the set for Scorsese’s Kundun and The Last Temptation of Christ, as well as Gladiator and Black Hawk Down. It also has its own growing indigenous industry, which the festival highlights with its Coup de Cour sidebar.

The festival will also launch its first student short competition this year with the Cinecoles section.