Joy wins Golden Star in Marrakech

The Chambermaid also honoured

by Amber Wilkinson

Lila Avilès, Aenne Schwarz, Sudabeh Mortezai, Nidhal Saadi and Ognjen Glavonić
Lila Avilès, Aenne Schwarz, Sudabeh Mortezai, Nidhal Saadi and Ognjen Glavonić Photo: Courtesy of Marrakech Film Festival

Joy took home the Golden Star for best film as the 17th edition of the Marrakech Film Festival drew to a close last night.

The Austrian film, directed by Sudabeh Mortezai tells the story of a young Nigerian woman who becomes caught in the vicious cycle of sex trafficking. It continues a strong awards run for Joy, which was also named Best Film at London Film Festival.

Mortezai, who received the prize from Monica Bellucci, said that she hoped the award would help the untold story "get greater visibility".

The Jury Prize was given to The Chambermaid (La Camarista), directed by Lila Avilès - a character study of a hotel maid - and the Best Directing accolade was awarded to Serbian director Ognjen Glavonic for The Load (Teret), a drama set against the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia.

The acting prizes went to Nidhal Saadi, for his role as a Tunisian migrant forced to reconnect with his autistic son in Nejib Belkadhi's Look At Me, and Aenne Schwarz, for her portrayal of a woman in the aftermath of Rape in All Good (Alles Ist Gut), by Eva Trobisch.

James Gray, who headed the jury - featuring Dakota Johnson, Michel Franco, Lynne Ramsay, Ileana D'Cruz, Joana Hadjithomas, Tala Hadid, Laurent Cantet and Daniel Brühl - said: “We saw a lot of great movies. I’m really happy about the winners, but all the films had a very high quality."

The festival has been reinvigorated this year, after a 12-month hiatus, by incoming artistic director Christophe Terhechte - who previously oversaw the Forum section at the Berlinale. It featured Atlas Workshops - a new industry series of events - intended to foster talent and attended by more than 200 film professionals, including 25 international film festival directors and programmers. It featured eight works in progress and six in the post-production phase.

The festival had a high star quotient, not least because of its association with Martin Scorsese, who has helped to invite talent to the event. This year, the showcase paid tribute to Robert De Niro, Agnes Varda and Jillali Ferhati, presenting them with career Golden Star accolades.

Other big names in attendance, included Guillermo Del Toro, Yousry Nasrallah and Cristain Mungui - while up to 100,000 people attended the various screenings across the city. The festival's films are free to attend, including open-air screenings in the city's Jemma El-Fna Square, which attracted between 7,000 and 12,000 people each night.

Read our interview with the star of The Chambermaid Gabriela Cartol here and look out for an interview with the festival's director Christoph Terhechte and more features coming soon.

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We're looking forward to the Sundance Film Festival and the Glasgow Film Festival.

We've recently been covering the French Film Festival UK, the Scottish Queer International Film Festival, the Marrakech Film Festival and Talinn Black Nights .

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