MARRAKESH, Morocco (AFP) — Veteran US movie director Martin Scorcese and Hollywood heartthrob Leonardo Di Caprio were guests of honour at the gala opening here of the seventh Marrakesh Film Festival.
"I am very pleased to offer the Golden Star to a very good friend and wonderful actor," Scorcese said Friday night as he handed Di Caprio the festival's top award in recognition of his career so far.
Scorcese, who has made three films with Di Caprio - "Gangs of New York" (2002), "Aviator" (2004) and "The Departed" (2006) - paid tribute to the actor for "always working till he breaks through the psychological depth of the character he has to play."
"I never failed to be amazed by his clear and complete commitment to his work," the director said.
Di Caprio, who has been in Morocco for the past three months working on a film on the Iraq war directed by Ridley Scott in which he co-stars with Russell Crowe, returned the compliment to Scorcese.
"The only thing I can say is since I was a young man I had always the ambition to be an actor," Di Caprio said, adding that he had never imagined he would one day have the chance to work with "a legend of the cinema like Martin Scorcese."
Moroccan director Mustafa Derkaoui was also awarded a Golden Star in recognition of his contribution to cinema in Morocco.
Czech-born director Milos Forman, this year's chairman of the jury, declared the festival open in Czech, flanked by fellow jurors Moroccan filmmaker Hamid Bennani, Pavel Lounguine of Russia, Claude Miller of France and Britain's Shekar Kapur.
Kapur's "Elizabeth: The Golden Age", starring Cate Blanchett, was screened as the festival's opening film out of competition.
In contention for the festival's Golden Star award this year are 14 films, representing Algeria, Estonia, China, the Czech Republic, Finland, Japan, the Philippines, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Russia, Serbia, and the United States.
The festival, which runs until December 15, will feature 110 films in all.
Last year the Gold Star went to German film "Der Rote Kakadu" (The Red Cockatoo), directed by Dominik Graf. Filmmaker Roman Polanski headed last year's festival jury.
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