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French Version

Morocco - Malas bags Jury Prize at Marrakech film festival

The controversial Syrian director Mohammad Malas won the Jury Prize for his film "Bab El Makan" and Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami won the "Prix d'Hommage" at the closing night of the 2005 Marrakech International Film Festival on Saturday night.

Malas' film was in competition with 16 others from 15 different countries at the awards, which were given out at the Palais Des Congres in the city.

Other winners included Kyrgystani director Ernest Abdyshaparov who bagged the Etoile d'Or for "Saratan" and Canadian Jean-Marc Vallee for "Crazy."

"Bab El Makan" tells the story of Imane, a young girl, who struggles against a society which does not accept her love for singing.

The film has not been screened in Syria said Malas because the authorities have prevented it, though a statement from the Syrian Cinema General Establishment published in the online Arabic News service denied this claiming Malas had never applied for permission to screen it in the first place.

Malas deals with the themes of music, censorship and lack of acceptance in Syrian society in his movies and the Marrakech Jury recognized his use of light and languid camerawork. Malas' last film, "The Passion," also proved controversial at home, for it was based on the true story of the killing of a Syrian woman, who passionately loved her family and the music of Umm Kalthoum - a passion mistaken by her brother-in-law for a love affair with another man.

The American director Martin Scorsese, alongside Kiarostami, won a lifetime achievement award at the Festival, which is in its fifth edition this year, and the celebrated Moroccan actor Amidou, who has worked in Hollywood as well as at home, was also honored.

The Marrakech International Film Festival was originally established to encourage international filmmakers to come to Morocco to shoot, but over the years, with an ability to attract major American, European and Arab stars, it has become a respected staple on the festival circuit.

Casablanca,11 21 2005
The Daily Star
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