Marrakech is readying itself for its 13th annual Film Festival, which will run from 29 November – 7 December. The latest celebrity news is that Oscar Winner Marion Cotillard will join American director Martin Scorsese (President on this year’s jury) on the judging panel. She joins an ever-increasing number of big-star international names who will sit on the jury this year, including Oscar nominee Patricia Clarkson, Amat Escalante, Paolo Sorrentino, Korean director Park Chan-wook, Indian filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and Turkish director Fatih Akin. The jury votes on the festival’s top prize, the Golden Star, as well as many other prizes like best film, best actor and best actress.
The festival will open with the Indian film Ram-leela, the latest by director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who will be in attendance with leading actress Deepika Padukone. The film is a modern version of Romeo and Juliet and it harks back to 2012 when the Marrakech International Film Festival was dedicated to Indian cinema in 2012. True to its international focus, the festival will pay tribute to Scandinavian cinema on 5 December.
We suspect that Andy Harris probably spent a little longer than a month researching and eating his way around Marrakech in order to produce this fabulous cookbook. Published by Australian publishers Hardie Grant, this book is for sale worldwide via Amazon and features all the different tastes and culinary diversity that Marrakech has to offer.
The excellent food photography by David Loftus makes the recipes incredibly appealing. We especially like the way that the book is laid out – starting with breakfast through to desserts. Also, many of the recipes featured include ingredients that you are likely to have at home, as well as some harder-to-find together items which can be found nowadays in most big city supermarkets and specialist shops. Recipes include things you’d expect like stuffed baby vegetables, harissa, mint tea and green bean salad, and things you might not, like Figs with Almond Milk Ice Cream and Orange Flower Donuts. Delicious!
You can order the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk
After stumbling upon the British Pathé website we were amazed by some of the old footage that can be found catalogued within the site. A short search – either by entering ‘Marrakech’, ‘Marrakesh’ or ‘Morocco’ – can bring up all sorts of fascinating footage from many years ago.
We found a market scene in the Medina from 1974 and various shots of the Sultan inspecting troops of Moroccan army where crowds of dignitaries watch, including some European army officers, from 1937.
In Terry Ashwood’s film ‘Marrakech – Desert Paradise’ from 1948, we watched a unique snapshot of Marrakech with a voice-over from a different time. Admittedly, the commentary seems a little dated but it’s intriguing to watch old scenes of the Atlas Mountains, hotel grounds, waiters, markets and orange trees. There’s a spice seller with his spices laid out in piles on a newspaper and money changing hands with stall owners. You can watch this clip here: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/marrakech-desert-paradise-1/query/Marrakech
This collected footage shows just how Morocco has changed over the decades and how in some ways, things have stayed the same (the craftsmanship, the trading, storytellers and so on).
Cyclists who like to go ‘off-road’ should look no further than AXS (www.argansports.com), a Marrakech-based bicycle company which offers touring, distribution, retail, and soon, a café. Ideal for ex-pats who are looking for an alternative way to explore Morocco, or for visitors who are keen for an adrenaline-filled trip.
Tours include the easy, beginner-level ‘Magical Marrakech’ tour, which is an hour and a half cycling past the King’s palace, the Medina and the Djeema-El-Fna where tour members stop to drink some of the best freshly-squeezed orange juice in the world.
Or, for something more adventurous, there’s the ‘intermediate to advanced’ graded full day tour of the Ouirgane Valley in the High Atlas Mountains. Two-wheels are a great way to get up close to Berber Villages and the tour focuses on “off-road” trails around Asni. Leg-wobbling maybe, but certainly spectacular!
Keep up with their blog here: http://blog.argansports.com/
While we thoroughly recommend getting into the souk and shopping for your own carefully sourced rug, we have to admit that we are rather taken with Kulchi, an Australian-owned company who have a showroom in Marrakech (appointment only, +212 (0) 639 221 259).
Owned by Cassandra Karinsky, who has lived and experienced Morocco over the past six years, she first designed her own kaftan range before moving into the world of interiors. Today, with a colleague, she sources the finest quality –and original- carpets and mats from trusted sources.
Also, as well as textiles, furniture and rugs Kulchi works with Patrick Manac’h in Marrakech to sell prints of his collection of images of Moroccan daily life – dating back to the 1870’s. They are available on semi-gloss in sepia or black and white, a great gift for anyone with a love of Morocco.
Kulchi (meaning ‘everything’ in Arabic) is also a great resource if you get home and decide you want to commission your own carpet or if you, like us, admire Cassandra’s chic taste.
We recently contributed to the website www.theculturetrip.com a well-known, and highly useful, web resource that showcases the best of art and culture for every country in the world. Morocco is covered well and the site includes essays and round-ups on everything from expat writers in Tangiers, to the top ten art galleries in Morocco.
The site also sells books and films about Morocco, including classics like ‘Casablanca’ and ‘Morocco’, a classic romantic drama starring Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich. Travel books include all the regular guidebooks along with specific books on culture and shopping, and there are also titles covering spirituality, art, architecture, fiction, history and food.
For our contribution, we chose to write about gardens in Marrakech in a piece called ‘An Oasis of Calm: The Historical Gardens of Marrakech.’ In the article we talk about how the gardens of Marrakech have inspired writers and artists over the years and which ones are really worth a visit. You can read the piece here:
Former style editor, Alessandra Lippini of Italian Vogue and her partner, Fabrizio Bizzarri, have to be one of the most stylish couples in Marrakech. It’s true that there are quite a few concept shops now in the city, but this fabulously fashionable pair kick-started the trend several years ago and their emporium-cum-gallery, Ministero Del Gusto, is an inspirational and good looking space.
Racks of carefully chosen vintage couture clothes stand alongside designer wooden furniture, bas reliefs and trinkets that have been sourced from all around the world. The space is also a hive of creativity and a few times a year the couple put on an art exhibition or a musical gathering, a taster of their art and design school which they have created along with Italian architect Sergio Calatroni located out in Tahanaoute (20km or so away). Make an appointment if you can, but impromptu visits are also welcomed.