My Christmas wish for you!

My Christmas wish dear reader is that we forget about commercialism.  And focus instead on creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Like admiring beautiful Christmas windows.

Watching the children’s faces light up with the magic of Christmas.

Sending and receiving Christmas cards in the mail.

The special atmosphere at the Christmas Eve church service.

Making yummy treats to share .  (And, OK, perhaps sneaking a few for yourself!)

Lazy afternoons playing classic board games.

And the classic Christmas movies we watch year after year.

Because after all the presents are unwrapped, it’s the memories that outlast the shiny wrapping paper.

Happy Christmas from Marrakech!

The shortest day of the year!

Happy first day of winter.

While I typically absolutely hate winter, but I didn’t mind a week of snow and cold while in Berlin.

I absolutely loved seeing parents pull their children around on old-fashioned sleds through the Christmas markets.

Copyright Mandy Sinclair

Copyright Mandy Sinclair

And children squealing with laughter as they slid down the hill in the local park.

IMG_0332

A reminder of childhood memories.

So here’s hoping you have the opportunity to release your inner child and enjoy the simple things in life. Especially during the holiday season!

Marrakech International Film Festival: A week of films, food, friends and fun!

Oh it’s been a fun week with the Marrakech International Film Festival taking place.  I’ve been sneaking out to catch as many films as possible.  Films followed by dinner with friends and vice versa.

Given that I live in Morocco, I was drawn to the Moroccan films, many of which were in the coup du coeur selection, but provided a fascinating look into real Moroccan life.

But I also had the chance to see several of the competition films.  And having seen I have to say my vote goes to The Attack. An amazing film of suspense, deceit, and courage. Having lived in a city during an attack, the emotions portrayed felt real. As did the plot line.

Although I’d also be happy if Horses of God won as well.

And now off to Berlin…

xo Mandy

Marrakech International Film Festival: Una Noche

With the Marrakech International Film Festival taking place this week, I’ve been tryiNg to see as many films as possible.  My interests tend to be in the competition films and the Moroccan films, both in and out of the competition.

The film I happened to be most excited about was Una Noche as it touched on a subject that interests me, and set in a country that fascinates me.   It was a tale of the too familiar story of Cubans trying to reach Miami.  I was expecting a documentary about a story of the actual crossing. What happened once they arrived. But what I got was a disappointment.  It was rather flat.  A climax of about three minutes. And side stories that seemed irrelevant, like the British family on vacation in Cuba.

What the film did well

I did enjoy seeing the streetscape of Havana, a city I long to visit. The architecture, old cars and the way of life. The way of life. And the reality of it.  Having met people from Cuba and heard their stories, I appreciated the comment in the movie that “the supermarkets are empty, but you can find anything you need in Cuba if you know the right people”.

Favourite quote I can’t remember the quote exactly, but it went something like this: “When I was a child I made the rules, but now the rules make me.”

Final notes The word propaganda came to mind at the end. Strong messages that seemed to say, stay in Cuba. Try to escape and you may end up like the main character did.  And throw in a shark to hit this message home!

Marrakech International Film Festival: Horses of God / Chevaux de Dieu by Nabil Ayouch

It was the first film I saw in the 2012 competition. And it was the first time the film was shown in Morocco. A special experience as I sat in a cinema filled with locals.

Filmed in the Sidi Moumin slum outside of Casablanca, Horses of God by Nabil Ayouch tells a story of children responsible for the recent Casablanca bombings.

The plot was gripping and the actors fantastic.  The emotions were real and convincing.  I’ll admit, I had to cover my eyes on a few occasions.

But for me it provided a greater insight in to the culture. Life.

And life in a slum in general.  The challenges that one endures on a daily basis just to survive.  And the little hope they have for the future.

It’s changed the way I look at daily life.  Like the man selling vegetables from a cart at the local market.  And what may be his story.

And the filmed also touched on religion.  The fear of Allah was a key theme throughout the film.  And radicalism.

A huge nod to the director Nabil Ayouch for taking on a subject matter such as this and bringing it to mainstream media.

But what really made the evening special was that we were in the presence of the main actors and the film director.

Check out the trailer at: http://www.premiere.fr/Bandes-annonces/Video/Les-Chevaux-de-Dieu-VOST.