Filmmaking Flourishes in Morocco

Morocco is one of North Africa’s top travel destinations, attracting visitors from around the world and hosting events supported by international artists, such as the recently held Festival Mawazine. With its spectacular scenery, majestic landmarks, modern infrastructure and geographical accessibility, Morocco is also becoming an increasingly important destination for international filmmakers. A recent report by the Moroccan Cinema Center (MCC) revealed that in the first six months of 2014, investment in the production of films in Morocco exceeded 500 million Moroccan dirham – more than double the amount invested for the whole of last year.

Scheduled for release in 2015, Queen of the Desert – a biopic about British explorer, cartographer, writer, archeologist and political officer Gertrude Bell – was filmed primarily in Merzouga, with scenes being shot in Marrakesh, Arfoud and Ouarzazate, as well as in Petra, Jordan, and London. Written and directed by German film director, producer, author, screenwriter and actor, Werner Herzog, the film stars James Franco, Robert Pattinson, Damian Lewis and Nicole Kidman, along with fifty other actors. Over 1,500 extras and 65 technicians, all Moroccans, participated in making the film.

In this year alone there have reportedly been more than twenty movie sets in operation in Morocco. Four were French and nine American, with the others including Canadian, German and local films. In its filmmaking history, Morocco has hosted more than fifty films of various genres which were either entirely made in Morocco, or included scenes from Moroccan cities and outlying areas. These include The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, Body of Lies, Troy, Inception, Rendition, Babel, Rock the Kasbah, Black Hawk Down, and the classic Lawrence of Arabia, to mention a few.

With offices in Rabat and Casablanca, the Moroccan Cinema Center (MCC) regulates, organizes and promotes the film-making industry in Morocco. The MCC operates a comprehensively equipped film-making facility including a laboratory for film processing, and an auditorium for studio recording, sound effects, sound dubbing and other pre- and post-production processes. The MCC is also responsible for issuing authorizations to shoot films, visas to market films and the issuing of authorizations to distributors of films in their various forms.