Martin Scorsese cancels appearance at Marrakech Film Festival

Oscar winner pulls out due to personal reasons hours after star-studded opening ceremony, reports say

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Martin Scorsese has cancelled his appearance at the Marrakech International Film Festival at the eleventh hour.

He was due to appear at the showcase, which began on Friday, as the special honourary guest. The Oscar-winning director was also due to mentor Mena filmmakers as the official patron for the event’s Atlas Workshops, with those participating to be known as the Class of Martin Scorsese.

Scorsese, who has attended the festival five times, is reportedly unable to travel due to personal reasons, although he has promised to return for a future event. No official statement has been released by the director or the festival.

Launched in 2018, the Atlas Workshops are an initiative to help Mena filmmakers by providing a space for exchanges between international professionals and regional talent. Scorsese will participate in several of the sessions.

Since its launch, the Atlas Workshops have supported 111 film projects, 48 of which are from Morocco.

Four Mena titles that have been shown at Cannes have gone through its programme, including Un Certain Regard Best Director winner The Mother Of All Lies by Asmae El Moudir and Un Certain Regard Jury Prize winner Hounds by Kamal Lazraq. Amjad Al Rasheed’s Inshallah A Boy screened in Critics’s Week and was also selected for the Toronto International Film Festival, while Deserts by Faouzi Bensaidi was selected for the Directors' Fortnight.

Scorsese is a long-time supporter of the festival, having attended it five times since its creation in 2001.

News of the cancellation comes hours after a star-studded opening ceremony fronted by jury president Jessica Chastain during which Mads Mikkelsen was presented with the festival’s Etoile d’Or career award by Willem Dafoe.

The Atlas Workshop programme runs from Monday to Thursday, while the wider festival continues until December 3.

Updated: November 25, 2023, 6:52 AM