Sun. Sep 24th, 2023

By Melanie Goodfellow
Senior International Film Correspondent
Indian acting star Ranveer Singh took centre stage at the opening night of the Marrakech International Film Festival on Friday evening, treating spectators to dancing and an impromptu rap session as he received a tribute award.
The Gully Boy and 83 star, who is one of Bollywood’s highest-paid actors, bounded onto the stage of the opening ceremony performing one of his characteristic energy dances.
“This is the darkest period. When I look at the world around me, I see all sorts of pain and suffering. I feel that in my capacity as an entertainer, the best thing I can do is lighten people’s burden,” said Singh as he received Marrakech’s Etoile d’Or trophy.

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Marrakech has a long history of celebrating Indian cinema. The festival previously honored Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan and in 2012, it ran a special sidebar to mark 100 years of Indian cinema.
After his appearance at the official opening ceremony, Singh high-tailed it to Marrakech’s famous Jemaa El Fna Square to introduce an open-air screening of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s 2015 multi-award-winning 18th costume drama Bajirao Mastani, in which the actor had one of his breakout roles.
He treated the crowd to a rendition of the rap number from Gully Boy and danced again.
“You put me on a stage and give me a mike, and I feel compelled to sing you a song, or do you a dance, or show you a movie, or tell you a story,” he said.
The Competition Jury also took the stage at the opening ceremony.
Oscar-winning Italian director Paolo Sorrentino is president of the jury, which also features British actress Vanessa Kirby German actor Diane Kruger Australian director Justin Kurzel, Lebanese director and actor Nadine Labaki, Moroccan director Laïla Marrakchi and French actorTahar Rahim.
Ceremony host Nabila Kilani said “difficult circumstances” had prevented previously announced jury members Danish director Susanne Bier and Guatemalan-born U.S. actor and producer Oscar Isaac from attending.
This year’s main competition will feature 14 first and second films, which include Portugal’s Oscar entry Alma Viva, Morocco’s submission The Blue Caftan and buzzy Indonesian Venice title Autobiography.
The festival opened on Friday evening with Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio although the director was not in attendance.

A number of other high-profile guests are due to attend over the course of the festival will include British actress Tilda Swinton, U.S director James Gray who will receive tribute awards.
Other guests include Léos Carax, Julie Delpy, Julia Ducournau, Asghar Farhadi, Jeremy Irons, Ruben Ôstlund and Jim Jarmusch, all of whom will be participating in in-conversation events.
This year’s Marrakech Film Festival, running November 11 to 19th, marks its first edition since 2019, with fears over Covid-19 spikes keeping it shut in 2020 and 2021.
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