All Eyes on Marrakech: AUI Students Rub Shoulders With Hollywood Filmmakers
From November 28 through December 2nd four AUI filmmaking students from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences attended the 2018 American Film Showcase in Marrakech where they participated in a screenwriting workshop with American screenwriters and producers. The workshop was organized by AUI Alumna and Cultural/Public Affairs Specialist at the U.S. Consulate General, Salma Benbouia, and her colleague Mary Rodeghier Martin of the U.S. Department of State. The students also attended a lunch where they were able to meet and speak with the Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Consulate to Morocco in Casablanca, Stephanie Miley, as well as the Consul General, Jennifer Rasamimanana, who were promoting the screenwriting workshops through a program they are sponsoring called Global Media Makers. Ms. Miley’s interview can be found in the following video starting around the 3-minute mark:
The film showcase was held at l’Ecole Supérieure des Arts Visuels de Marrakech (ESAV) and saw a mixed attendance of students from AUI, ESAV, Ibn Zohr Ouarzazate with a mixture of students from AUI, ESAV, Ibn Zohr University in Ouarzazate, and Cadi Ayyad University in. American screenwriter Jeff Stockwell, known for his work on films like A Wrinkle in Time and Bridge to Tarabithia, and Richard Tanne, an American screenwriter, actor and producer, led the workshop and provided the students with invaluable knowledge, guidance and insight that could only come from members of the American film industry.
Regarding the workshop, Romy Boutin St-Pierre, a Canadian exchange student at AUI who attended the event, said:
"This wonderful experience allowed us to combine our passion of filmmaking, film studies, screenwriting, audiovisual techniques and more. Students and professionals came from everywhere, the world of Hollywood, Chile, Canada and various regions of Morocco, with one thing in common: the desire to learn and share our dreams and future projects with one another. During the workshop, we all presented a synopsis for a story idea to work on together under the guidance of our two mentors, Jeff Stockwell and Richard Tanne. In the evening we attended the International Film Festival of Marrakech and viewed several acclaimed films from countries like Italy, Argentina, Mexico, Lebanon, the U.S. and Morocco. After the films were screened, discussions with the directors and their teams often ensued. As an exchange student from Canada, I felt delighted to have the opportunity to be surrounded by other young Moroccans that were all extremely passionate about the world of filmmaking. I discovered Marrakech behind the scenes, an entirely different world than what I experienced when I was there as a tourist. I sincerely hope that other opportunities for meetings, exchanges and learning in a festival context will continue to be offered to Al Akhawayn University students in the future."
In addition to the 2018 American Film Showcase in Marrakech, the students also attended the 17th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival, which made an extraordinary comeback after a one-year hiatus. The festival, which spanned from November 30th through December 8th, featured prominent members of the Hollywood film industry such as actors Robert De Niro and Laurence Fishbourne and directors Martin Scorsese and Guillermo del Toro. The festival welcomed over 200 professionals from the Moroccan film industry, and out of the 80 films chosen for the official selection, 12 were Moroccan.
While the festival saw a large number of working members of the film industry, the youth was well represented as well. Over 3,500 students from Morocco were able to view the films being screened, and many of them, including those from AUI, were able to attend special workshops with Martin Scorsese and a tribute to well-known French film director Agnès Varda.