sat 24/08/2019

Morocco

theartsdesk in Fes: A world music festival that's a beacon of tolerance

You are or maybe wish you were at Glastonbury this weekend. Not me. I last went six years ago and it’s just too big for me. And you need about four different passes to get backstage should you have a good or a bad reason to get there. Too...

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theartsdesk at the Marrakech Biennale: "Where Are We Now?"

Whether fingerprint or labyrinth, the swirly logo for Marrakech Biennale 5 feels apt. The festival has left its mark upon the city. It questions Moroccan notions of identity. And, going by the tagline, “Where are we now?” it reflects the ease with...

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'The Rolling Stones of Morocco' - Nass El Ghiwane's music of protest

Fly into Morocco on Royal Air Maroc, and as in-flight entertainment on the overhead screens you’re treated to Charlie Chaplin shorts from the 1910s, still sharp as a tack, the little guy goosing authority, the law, the rich, the powerful. The Little...

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theartsdesk in Fes: Patti Smith and the Sufis

“The boy looked at Johnny – he was surrounded by white and blue tiles, in the medina.” Patti Smith was improvising on her classic album Horses in her first, compelling, gig in Morocco. Smith has a history of Moroccan connections: she knew the...

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theartsdesk in Fes: Bjork among the Gnawas

Wandering through the winding alleyways of the Medina, there was Bjork dressed in a dazzling blue dress and hat and listening to a Gnawa group with its dull, thudding bass and metal castanets. She was here to perform at the Fes Festival of Sacred...

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The Source

Aridity and comedy are not words you expect to read, or write, in the same sentence. Yet they capture some of the many attractions of Radu Mihaileanu’s new film The Source. The director came to considerable public attention two years ago with his...

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DVD: Hanna

It’s pretty damn cold inside the Arctic Circle, but Eric Bana’s former CIA agent Erik Heller doesn’t notice. Striding out of his wilderness cabin into metres-deep snow, he’s fine in a business suit. Demanding a catering-sized suspension of disbelief...

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theartsdesk in Fes: The Festival and the Moroccan Spring

Strange portents – the weather is always dry and baking hot this time of year in Fes. This time it was like winter, with lashing rain and thunder for the first few days of the Fes Festival. But then things are strange in general here; events are...

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theartsdesk in Western Sahara: The World's Most Remote Film Festival

At FiSahara, films are screened at night in the centre of the camp onto a multiplex-sized screen

During the 1960s, when decolonisation movements were sweeping the world, it was joked that, after achieving independence, a country had to do three things: design a flag, launch an airline and found a film festival. Western Sahara has a flag but...

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Chouf Ouchouf, Queen Elizabeth Hall

'Chouf Ouchouf': Human pyramids are only the start of it

If you’re looking for a surprising and off-the-wall show this school holidays, I’ve no hesitation in hugely recommending Chouf Ouchouf, a brilliantly and theatrically inventive acrobat theatre show performed by the Groupe Acrobatique de Tangier, a...

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BBC Diverse Orchestras 2011: The Music of North Africa, The Tabernacle

The Fez Andalusian Orchestra making waves in Notting Hill

Now I know why the BBC Symphony Orchestra slunk so easily into Piazzolla tango mode last Friday: they'd danced it under Latin American instruction four years ago. It's all part of their education department's annual Diverse Orchestras week, where...

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theartsdesk at the Gnawa Festival, Essaouira

Gnawa musicians playing at opening ceremony

Come the end of June in Essaouira on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, up to half a million festival-goers team the narrow, traffic-free streets of the medina, its two huge open squares, and numerous courtyards and riyads around town, for what must be the...

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