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Marrakech Film Festival: A Glorious 2023 Edition Headed by Jessica Chastain


Marrakech Film Festival - Jessica Chastain
The 20th edition of the Marrakesh Film Festival witnessed remarkable milestones that solidified the spot of Marrakesh on the international festival circuit.

This year’s jury was presided by American actress Jessica Chastain and brought together eight personalities from five continents: Franco-Iranian actor Zar Amir; French actor Camille Cottin; Australian actor and director Joel Edgerton; British director Joanna Hogg; American director Dee Rees; Egyptian-born Swedish director Tarek Saleh; Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgard; and Franco-Moroccan writer Leila Slimani.

More than 21,000 registrants, and nearly 8,000 school students and teenagers, attended the screenings during nine days of inspiration. The audience enjoyed 75 films from 36 countries previewed from various sections.

Some high-profile attendees who participated in the In Conversation With program of intimate discussions included Simon Baker, Faouzi Bensaïdi, Willem Dafoe, Viggo Mortensen, Tilda Swinton and more.

“The power of storytelling reminded us all why we chose to dedicate ourselves to art… This generation of filmmakers is dedicated to confronting the narrative in truthful ways… This is the future of cinema, and the world is in excellent hands,” said Jessica Chastain during the closing ceremony.

A day before the grand finale, we spoke with the Oscar-winning actress about her rebel persona and experience as the president of the jury, more than a decade since her last visit to the international festival.

Ever since your major role in the Tree of Life, critics predicted that you will be one of the greatest actresses of your generation. How does it feel when you look back and realize that you didn't disappoint?
I've noticed that whenever I've been labeled in any way, I get quite rebellious. After the Tree of Life I decided to hide from all the attention I got that year. The next film I participated in was to show the world that I am a different type of actress. I think I'm constantly doing this even after I won the Oscar. I feel that I look for directors and creators who really are subversive and take huge risks. I never want to allow myself to be too comfortable. It someone starts giving me a lot of attention for doing one genre, then I’ll go and do X-Men or a bunch of silly things to show that no one can be in charge of me except me.

You're one of the most feminist personalities in Hollywood. When did this commitment become inseparable from your work?
I discovered this aspect without even being aware, it's just always been within me. I think it probably happened during my childhood; being raised by single mothers, growing up in a situation where in many cases we didn't have food and got evicted from houses. I remember this feeling of being invisible in society. I didn't feel it was fair, how my grandmother was treated by society, the situation she had been through in her life, or the responsibilities she was forced to take on. The inequality in wage and pay, or even the opportunity of education and getting jobs were not equitable. It was really implanted in me at a very young age and became who I am. If I see some kind of inequality or discrimination, I can't help but speak against it. And because it's who I am, it became part of my work.

Tell us more about your experience at the festival as the president of its jury?
I try to honor my job as best as I can here. I want every filmmaker to feel that they have the most unbiased and fair point of view. I have to say that the selection that was put in front of me is incredibly inspiring. I've seen different parts of the world and different experiences here that I don't think I've had at other festivals. This is an incredibly important festival and I have noticed the growth from being here in 2011 to this very moment. It feels rebellious, it feels positively dangerous, in a way that other festivals are not.