'Marrakech Film Festival is a legend,' says Oscar winner Tilda Swinton

The British actress paid tribute to the cinematic celebration during its opening weekend

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It is marking its 18th birthday this year, and the Marrakech International Film Festival has become a "beacon" for filmmakers in that time, according to actress Tilda Swinton.

The British star of Doctor Strange paid a heartfelt homage to the Moroccan cinematic event this weekend, as she attended a star-studded opening ceremony.

"The Marrakech Film Festival is a legend," Swinton told the crowd while on stage, according to Variety. "It's a beacon for cineastes around the world who come from all stretches of our planet to meet under the African sky, which gives its blessing on all us. It's a privilege to be here."

Swipe through the gallery above to see the latest from the Marrakech International Film Festival.

The Oscar-winning Michael Clayton actress is helming the jury for the festival this year, presiding over a nine-member panel that includes Moroccan director Ali Essafi, Afghani director Atiq Rahimi and The King's Australian director David Michod.

Swinton also paid tribute to the festival's global vision in a press conference yesterday, after jury members discussed what films they had selected for the official In Competition segment.

“We’ve talked this morning about national identity, gender identity, and the differences between fiction and documentary. But I suggest we dissolve these divisions entirely," said Swinton. "What interests us is the state of cinema. Entirely free and entirely subjective. This is a great opportunity from this wonderful festival dedicated to supporting cineastes’ visions. Let’s go for freedom here.”

The festival, which runs in Marrakesh until Saturday, December 7, will this year fete the best of Australian cinema, as well as works from the Arab world, and will screen 25 feature films from Down Under during its programme.

Scroll through the gallery below to see the best red carpet photos from the Marrakech Film Festival 2019 opening ceremony.

George Miller's Mad Max, Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock and Justin Kurzel's True History Of the Kelly Gang are among the titles that will be showcased throughout the festival.

As well as Watts, several stars of Australia's acting landscape are set to make an appearance at the festival, such as Geoffrey Rush, Simon Baker and Ben Mendelsohn.

Last night, a premiere for Noura's Dream, Hinde Boujemaa's drama about a woman trying to escape the clutches of an abusive husband, took place at the festival.

The film, which stars Hend Sabry in the titular role, has netted the star Best Actress gongs at both the El Gouna Film Festival and the Carthage Film Festival.

Also set to attend this year's Marrakech International Film Festival is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid legend Robert Redford, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Palestinian director Elia Suleiman and Pulp Fiction star Harvey Keitel, who will each take part in on-stage 'In Conversation With' interviews.

Redford will also receive the festival’s Etoile d’Or award in recognition of his life's work, while a tribute will be made to Chopra in the city's Jemaa El Fna Square.

"I am thrilled to be returning to Marrakech, after attending the Festival in 2012 for the tribute to Hindi cinema" said The Sky is Pink actress. "It is such an honour to be recognised this year with a tribute on Jemaa El Fna Square before the Moroccan public, who have always showed so much love and support throughout my career."

Rian Johnson's Knives Out opened the festival programme, with 98 movies from 34 countries due to be screened across the week. Among those showcasing in the festival's Official Competition is Tlamess by Tunisia's Ala Eddine Slim and Last Visit by Saudi Arabia's Abdulmohsen Aldhabaan.

For more information, visit www.festivalmarrakech