WEIRDLAND: Morocco is chic

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Morocco is chic

"At this time of year, Morocco resembles Los Angeles with its pleasant days and cool nights. But when it comes to filming, the country is hotter than ever.

Paramount Vantage's "Babel," New Line Cinema's "The Nativity Story" and MGM's upcoming "Home of the Brave" have shot there in the past year -- as did an episode of CBS' "The Amazing Race." Universal Pictures' "Charlie Wilson's War" just finished shooting there, while New Line's "Rendition" and Warner Independent Pictures' Paul Haggis mystery thriller "In the Valley of Elah" are lining up shoots in the near future. [...]

"It's as safe a place as any," producer Steve Golin says. "It's a kingdom, and there's really really strong security there, and you feel safe."

Golin produced "Babel,"

Brad Pitt in "Babel"
about 60% of which was shot in Morocco, and is in production on "Rendition," a thriller about an extracted Muslim national starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon.

"Rendition" didn't go to Dubai because that Saudi peninsula country doesn't have the look of a typical Middle East country -- instead, it has an aura of blazing white, oil-rich modernity -- and Egypt was considered but eventually was thought of as "too dicey."

"Everybody is concerned about safety" when it comes to filming internationally, Golin says.

"Rendition" will be looking to shoot at a large prison and a university and is working out the logistics for a scene involving a bombing at a roundabout traffic circle.

Irwin Winkler decided to film his Iraqi war drama "Home of the Brave" in the Moroccan town of Ouarzazate after learning that William Friedkin shot "Rules of Engagement" there in 2000.

"It is an Arab and Muslim country. The people and the buildings were exactly what we needed as far as atmosphere and background," Winkler says.

The director's biggest obstacle wasn't the weather, laws or language but rather learning some of the customs. "When we went to somebody's house to put a camera in, they insisted on us having tea first," he says. "And they have very nice customs there, but we were itching to get in and out."

Winkler, like Golin, praised the strong infrastructure, with its seasoned crews and state-of-the-art soundstages, that has grown exponentially since the 1990s, when Ridley Scott shot "Gladiator" there.

Joaquin Phoenix in "Gladiator"
Scott since has come back to Morocco for "Black Hawk Down" and "Kingdom of Heaven."

Eva Green in "The Kingdom of Heaven"
In fact, if anything, there's so much production, particularly in Ouarzazate, that filmmakers are tripping over themselves.

"When we were there with 'Babel,' they were doing 'The Hills Have Eyes 2' and some Moses miniseries with Omar Sharif," Golin says. "So you're at the pool of the hotel and there are four other movie crews there."

He adds: "You get tired of your own crew after awhile, so it wasn't so bad."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter


Gail said...

Kendra the pictures are so good. You know how much I love your site. I clicked into a link here that took me to a Jake site lovely and amazing. In a foreign language, but there was a computer virus there. My spy blocker cleaned it up but told me it was serious. Be careful there, Hugs Gail

Kendra said...

Thanks for the warning, Gail! I am equipped with Norton Anti-virus and another of Symantec installed, I'll take good care!

gr77 said...

i have a very romatic idea of morocco.maybe it's because of the amazing film "casablanca"

Simon Agent 002 said...

I love "Casablanca" your talking movies :)

and for americans...(at least the ones who remember or know) ....there was always Grace Kelly.
Who married the prince of Morocco.
Perhaps the most beautiful woman on film, have you seen "Rear Window"

gr77 said...

i totally agree with you simon.grace kelly was the most beautiful woman in film (actually i think she's the most beautiful woman i've ever seen).i'm glad you mention rear window.i'm a huge hitchcock fun and this is one of my favourites of absolute favourite is vertigo.

p.s. i think grace kelly married the prince of monaco (the small state in the south of France)

Simon Agent 002 said...

Favorite hitchcock movie...hmm?

Hard to pick but it would be fun to list 5 in order of favs... if Kendra's game?

Kendra said...

Ok, Simon, let's game. My top 5 Hitchcock list:

5. "Rope" (1948)
4. "Vertigo" (1958)
3. "Rear Window" (1954)
2. "Shadow of a Doubt" (1943)
1. "Psycho" (1960)

Post your Hitchcock lists!

Simon Agent 002 said...

1. "Rear Window" (1954)
2. "Notorious" (1946)
3. "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" (1941)
4. "Vertigo" (1958)
5. "Psycho" (1960)

There are many I don't think I've seen or remember such as "Rope"....and since I said 5..."The Birds" "Suspicion" didn't make it.

Did you see this on Wikipedia?


"Fear of Eggs (Ovophobia)
Alfred Hitchcock had an extreme fear of eggs (also known as ovophobia), he said: I’m frightened of eggs, worse than frightened, they revolt me. That white round thing without any holes … have you ever seen anything more revolting than an egg yolk breaking and spilling its yellow liquid? Blood is jolly, red. But egg yolk is yellow, revolting. I’ve never tasted it. Fear of eggs"