The Playlist

Marrakech Fest Review: Dark, Stylised 'The Gambler' From New Director Ignas Jonynas

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • December 8, 2013 1:34 PM
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A feature debut (we’re not counting the portmanteau “Yolki,” co-directed with Timur Bekmambetov, among others) so self-assured as to really only ever be marred by show-offiness, Latvian/Lithuanian co-production "The Gambler," which plays in competition at the Marrakech Film Festival, marks director Ignas Jonynas out as one to keep an eye on. Taking a skewed, and ever so slightly surreal, story about a team of emergency medics who develop a highly successful and lucrative game involving betting on when patients are going to die, and basing the odds on complex and arcane analyses of the medical information to which they have access, the film, to its credit, is less interested in this high concept than it is in its lead character, the bearlike Vincentas (Vytautus Kaniusonis), his moral descent and eventual redemption.

Marrakech Review: The Thoughtful, Artful, Award-Winning 'Ida,' From Director Pawel Pawlikowski

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • December 7, 2013 12:04 PM
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  • 1 Comment
From the opening moments of “Ida,” the Polish film from director Pawel Pawlikowski—that plays in competition at the Marrakech Film Festival, but is already trailing awards from TIFF (FIPRESCI critics award) and Warsaw (Grand Prix), having also elicited a rave from our own Oli Lyttelton when he saw it in London—it’s clear that we’re in for something unusual. Shot in a boxy aspect ratio, in rich, complex black and white, the film isn’t simply stylistically arresting, however; these first few moments find us in a quiet cloister of a Polish convent in the 1960s as a group of novice nuns silently, piously, go about restoring a statue of Christ, returning it to its plinth in the convent’s snowy grounds. This wordless beginning, told in beautifully composed shots, sets the mood for a small, quiet, polished film that unfolds slowly but with remarkable assurance and features a striking central performance from Agata Trzebuchowska.

Noomi Rapace Talks ‘Animal Rescue’ & ‘Child 44’ With Tom Hardy, Tommy Wirkola's 'Monday?' & Much More

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • December 6, 2013 2:44 PM
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  • 6 Comments
These last few years have been a wild ride for Noomi Rapace, but sitting down to talk with her at the Marrakech Film Festival this week, we found her refreshingly down to earth, giving the impression of someone who is fully aware of the lucky hand she’s been dealt and is not afraid to work hard to stay so lucky. Of course it was the Swedish version of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” trilogy that originally saw Rapace break out internationally, and since then one of the things that has characterized her career has been her tendency to work again with people she has collaborated with before. So over the brief span of four years she did “Dead Man Down” for ‘Dragon Tattoo’ director Niels Arden Oplev, has two projects with Tom Hardy in the can, two with Mathias Schoenaerts and hopes to reteam with Ridley Scott for the mooted “Prometheus 2.”

Marrakech Fest Interview: Tobias Lindholm Talks 'A Hijacking,' Influence Of Kathryn Bigelow On Next Film 'The War' & More

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • December 5, 2013 3:37 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Tobias Lindholm, A Hijacking
In a nice note of symmetry to our 2013, one of our first interviews of the year at the Goteborg Film Festival in Sweden, was with the Danish director of “A Hijacking,” Tobias Lindholm, and today we found ourselves in December in Marrakech getting to speak with him again. Lindholm is here as part of the Marrakech Film Festival’s tribute to Scandinavian cinema, which also boasts Tomas Alfredson, Noomi Rapace, Alicia Vikander, Nicolas Winding Refn and Mads Mikkelsen in its starry lineup. But it’s not just his nationality that brings him back; last year “A Hijacking” his sophomore directorial feature, was awarded the Jury Prize at this very festival. It’s always a pleasure to talk to anyone as engaging as Lindholm, but the year has proven busier than he had anticipated back at its start, and among other tidbits, he gave us an in depth look at his next directorial project, “The War” which is clearly on his mind in an evolving form right now, as even here at the festival, he is putting in four or five-hour days purely on script work.

Marrakech Interview: Kore-eda Hirokazu On Technique, Spielberg's Remake Of 'Like Father Like Son' & More

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • December 2, 2013 5:01 PM
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  • 0 Comments
In person, Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu is gentle and thoughtful, with a frequent warm, shy smile--of the directors we've met, he perhaps comes closest to being the true embodiment of his films. But his humility, which was even touched on during his introduction at the Marrakech International Film Festival tribute that followed our interview, is all the more remarkable for the body of work it covers: since establishing himself instantly as a filmmaker of rare sensitivity with 1995's "Maborosi," and breaking through internationally with his vision of a bureaucratic yet sympathetic Purgatory in "After Life," he has brought films to Cannes four times, and earlier this year won the Jury Prize and the Ecumenical Jury Prize for the extraordinarily affecting "Like Father Like Son."

Marrakech Fest Review: 'A Thousand Times Good Night' Starring Juliette Binoche & Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • December 2, 2013 4:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments
A Thousand Times Good Night
How much does autobiography help or hinder a film's effectiveness? Norwegian director Erik Poppe's first English-language film, which played at the Marrakech Film Festival as part of the tribute evening honoring its star, Juliette Binoche, is avowedly based on incidents, and professional and personal quandaries the director himself experienced with one crucial change: Poppe switched the lead roles around so that it is Binoche who is his proxy, and Kingslayer Nikolaj Coster-Waldau playing the character based on Poppe's wife. That change is crucial to the final film and as it wears on, begins to look like maybe the best narrative decision that could have been made.

'The Immigrant,' 'The Zero Theorem,' 'Like Father Like Son' & More Headed To Marrakech International Film Festival

The Immigrant
With a jury headed by Martin Scorsese and including Faith Akin, Patricia Clarkson, Marion Cotillard, Amat Escalante, Golshifteh Farahani, Anurag Kashyap, Narjiss Nejjar, Park Chan-wook and Paolo Sorrentino and with masterclasses conducted by Bruno Dumont, James Gray, Abbas Kiarostami, Nicolas Winding Refn and Régis Debray, the Marrakech Flim Festival certainly isn't slouching when it comes to attracting big name talent. And effort extends to the official lineup of the festival. Read More »

James Gray, Nicolas Winding Refn & More Giving Masterclasses At 2013 Marrakech International Film Festival

The Playlist has worked our passports hard this year, booking time at festivals around the world including: Sundance, Berlin, SXSW, Tribeca, Goteburg, Karlovy Vary, Los Angeles, Telluride, Toronto, New York, London, Festival Du Nouveau Cinema, Savannah, Fantastic Fest and more. Believe it or not we got another coming up: Marrakech. Read More »

Jonathan Demme On Future Projects 'Old Fires,' 'Zeitoun' And 'This House We Live In'

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • December 29, 2012 12:25 PM
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  • 3 Comments
During the Marrakech Film Festival earlier this month we had a brief chat with director Jonathan Demme ("Stop Making Sense," "The Silence of the Lambs," "Rachel Getting Married," "Neil Young Journeys," etc), who was in town to give one of the festival’s Masterclasses (Darren Aronofsky was among the other filmmakers to give one, you can read our coverage of his masterclass here). The first thing that struck us about Demme, however, was just how enthusiastic of a cinepile the veteran director is -- it’s unusual to come across a person being so honored who is actually spending most of his time at the festival watching the films.

6 Personal Highlights From The Film Festivals Of 2012

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • December 28, 2012 12:12 PM
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  • 2 Comments
We're generally anti-navelgazing here at The Playlist, but being the end of the year, it can't really be avoided. As we continue to take a look back at the cinematic year of 2012, we're trying to shake things up and keep things fresh outside of the usual Best/Worst lists. This year saw The Playlist making a presence around the world at more than a handful of festivals. And while you've already read our reviews and news, we thought we'd give you a taste of the experience of attending these festivals. Even if you can't make Cannes or board a flight to Marrakech, we hope this helps in translating what it's like to run around a foreign country with nothing more than a laptop and a love of cinema. So, without further ado, here are six personal highlights from the various film festivals in 2012 we attended.

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