Promoting Visual Arts in Marrakech

The very words ‘Morocco’ and ‘Marrakech’ conjure up visions of glamorous, exotic and mysterious locations, so it’s no wonder that many foreign films have been shot on location in this fascinating North African country over the decades since moving pictures became a popular means of entertainment. The Lumière brothers of France are believed to have been the earliest filmmakers in history, and their 1897 film Le chevalier Marocain was based in Morocco.

As an institution of higher education, the Marrakech School of Visual Arts (L’École supérieure des arts visuels de Marrakech) is dedicated to training students for careers in television, film and visual communications such as multimedia design and graphic arts, promoting these skills on the African continent. Most often referred to as ESAV Marrakech, the Marrakech School of Visual Arts also promotes cultural and social diversity, with students primarily from Africa, the Maghreb and the Middle East. As a partnership with the University Cadi Ayyad of Marrakech, the school was founded in 2006 by the Susanna Biedermann Foundation of Switzerland, and runs as a non-profit organization.

The school complex includes two film set studios with multi-camera facilities and a 210-seat movie theater. A sound-proofed auditorium and sound-proofed recording studio, along with twenty editing rooms, seven sound recording units, five DV cam filming units, fifteen HD cam filming units, large screen projection, artist workshops and Mac Pro-equipped graphic art studios, are among the facilities offered to students. Each year entrance evaluations are held in Paris, Marrakech and ten other locations in the Middle East and Africa. Applicants need a bachelor’s degree, and with an independent scholarship fund available, students are selected on their abilities and not their financial or social status.

Led by Moroccan curator and historian, Abdellah Karroum, ESAV collaborates with Rabat-based The Apartment 22 and other institutes to host an annual meeting creating a platform for the university and the professional world of art, both national and international, to meet and share knowledge and experiences regarding the arts.

With the Marrakech International Film Festival (Festival International du Film de Marrakech) set to take place from November 30 through to December 08, 2012, clearly Morocco is on the international map in the realms of visual art in all its forms.