Award-Winning Film on Morocco is Released on DVD

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The award-winning documentary "Morocco: The Past and Present of Djemma el Fna," about the story tellers, musicians, acrobats and snake charmers of Marrakech's legendary public square, has been released to universities, public libraries and consumers in the DVD format. The short documentary features travelers from the United States, Ireland and Japan, who encounter costumed monkeys dancing to wild drum beats, a storyteller surrounded by awed faces of children and a turbaned snake charmer coaxing a cobra from his basket with his flute-like instrument, the ghaita. The film was first presented at New York's Museum of Modern Art, and has received film festival awards in Chicago, Washington D.C., Houston and Atlanta.

The award-winning documentary, "Morocco: The Past and Present of Djemma el Fna," about the story tellers, musicians, acrobats and snake charmers of Marrakech's legendary public square, has been released to universities, public libraries and consumers in the DVD format. The short documentary features travelers from the United States, Japan and Ireland, who encounter costumed monkeys dancing to wild drum beats, a storyteller surrounded by awed faces of children and a turbaned snake charmer coaxing a cobra from his basket with his flute-like instrument, the ghaita.

Since its release in 1995, the documentary has been widely distributed in the United States; it has introduced Americans to one of Morocco's most historic locales, a site that has enchanted visitors for centuries. New York-based producer Steven Montgomery spent two weeks filming at the Place Djemma el Fna, and portrayed Marrakech's square as a venue for peaceful cultural exchange between Arabs and Westerners. His interview with snake charmer Belaid Farrouss and his children in their Marrakech home has become one of the most noted scenes of the documentary. The film features original music by Moroccan composer and singer Hassan Hakmoun.

Recently, Montgomery was honored to receive congratulations on the success of his film from André Azoulay, Counselor to the King of Morocco. Mr. Azoulay stated: "I am very pleased to see that your documentary is now being used at universities and libraries in 34 states. It is a real achievement and you can be proud of it. It is also a major breakthrough for Morocco in terms of knowledge and pedagogy in American universities and in the community of students."

Initially, when Montgomery proposed his project, he encountered resistance from wealthy potential investors in Marrakech, one of whom protested, "You will not make this film! We do not want our city represented by this dirty place of the poor!" However, Montgomery was fortunate to have found encouragement and support from many Moroccans, including the former Director of the Centre Cinématographique Marocain (CCM), Souheil Ben Barka, who stated in a letter: "I wish you much success in the making of your film. I am convinced that your documentary on the Place Djemma el Fna will bring wonderful publicity to our country."

"Morocco: The Past and Present of Djemma el Fna," was first presented at New York's Museum of Modern Art, and has received film festival awards in Chicago, Washington D.C., Houston and Atlanta. It has become one of the most widely distributed films for use in the field of Middle East Studies, and has been acquired by such noted institutions as Harvard University, Columbia University, Duke University and Georgetown University.

Montgomery commented on his experience in Morocco. "Moroccan people were so kind and generous to me as I was working on the documentary. Moroccan hospitality is a central theme of my film in which visitors from around the world visit the Place Djemma El Fna. I am pleased that through the wide distribution of my film, so many Americans have learned of this tradition of hospitality, which I experienced myself, as I was so warmly welcomed in the beautiful country of Morocco."

"Morocco: The Past and Present of Djemma el Fna" is available for purchase at the Web site: http://www.moroccofilm.org

For more information, please contact:
Steven Montgomery
400 West 43rd Street, 34A
New York, New York 10036
Tel.: 212-736-9279
Cell: 646-267-9113
http://www.moroccofilm.org

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STEVEN MONTGOMERY

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