Many famous personalities have succumbed to the charm of Morocco. Some fell in love with its culture, its architecture, its hospitality, its gastronomy, and even music which is the case of one of the greatest directors of all time, the Italian-American, Martin Scorcese.
Martin Scorsese and Nass el Ghiwane
Martin Scorcese visited Morocco for the first time in 1983, and it is thanks to Nass El Ghiwane (the mythical Moroccan music group of the 1970’s) that he discovered this magnificent country. After visiting Morocco many times, he never ceases to feel connected to this country, to the different landscapes, to Moroccan culture… and connected to Moroccans in general. He finds, like so many others, the Moroccan people very friendly and warm.
«Transes» is the story of the mythical Nass El Ghiwane group, “the Rolling Stones of the Arab world” as Martin Scorsese calls them, who fell in love with their musical genius when he discovered the film Transes on television. A movie directed by the Moroccan director Ahmed El Maânouni, who followed Nass El Ghiwane in several concerts in the Maghreb (Morocco, Tunisia) and in France. He then decided to go further and film the musicians in their intimacy. The result is this musical docufiction retracing various social themes (hope, laughter, suffering, revolt…). The docufiction was presented at the 1981 New York Film Festival.
Fascinated by their talent, the American director of Taxi Driver chose the music of Nass El Ghiwane to illustrate the soundtrack of his film “The Last Temptation of Christ” which he shot in 1988, in Morocco. Then, in 1996, he came back to do another movie called “Kundun” that was shot mainly at the Atlas Studios in Ouarzazate.
A love story that continues to grow with time
With the support of the World Cinema Foundation, he restored in 2007 the Moroccan film Transes (El Hal, 1981) by Ahmed El Maanouni, dedicated to the music group Nass El Ghiwane. The Marrakech International Film Festival paid homage to him in 2002 and 2005, and in 2007 offered him the opportunity to give his Cinema Lesson, and in 2010 to present the Tribute to French Cinema to the president of his delegation, Catherine Deneuve.
In 2005, he received a “Ouissam” which is a medal decoration given from the hands of the King of Morocco.
Martin Scorsese keeps coming to Morocco, especially because of the well-known Moroccan film festival called Marrakech Film Festival that brings many world-famous personalities to Morocco for the special event of which His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid is the President.
In 2018, Martin Scorsese came back to Morocco with Robert de Niro where Martin paid homage to his old friend “Bob” by handing him the Golden Star award at the Marrakech International Film Festival (FIFM) as a tribute to his career.
Martin Scorcese: “By visiting Morocco many times, I feel connected to this country, to the different landscapes, to the Moroccan culture… and connected to the Moroccans in general. “
And that’s not all president of the jury of the 17th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival, in2018, James Gray spoke about his presence in the ochre city, his relationship with the seventh art and his journey. James made no secret of his excitement about being in Morocco. He says he is proud and happy to be in Marrakech, which he considers magical. The director affirms, without hesitation, that he would not find it difficult to make a film in Morocco and that it was the great Martin Scorsese who recommended to him.
This proves again Martin’s love for this unique country which he clearly has a long history of friendship with.
Always happy to be in Morocco, considered even to be the official sponsor of the Moroccan cinematheque, here is a video of Martin Scorcese expressing his love for Nass el Ghiwane at the Marrakech Film Festival. You can skip to 1:18 if you directly want to hear him speak.