Exit Marrakech: When 17-year-old Ben visits his divorced dad Heinrich in Morocco for the summer, he realizes his dad is as foreign to him as the country itself. Struggling to reconnect, their old conflicts bubble up and eventually push Ben to leave the luxury confines of his father’s world for the wonders the exotic country has to offer. From the colorful streets of Marrakech to the Atlas Mountains, with deserts and oases in between, Academy Award®-winning director Caroline Link (Nowhere in Africa) takes us through the unexpected twists and turns of Ben’s adventures and Heinrich’s search for his son.
Please describe your film in your own words.
Caroline Link: Exit Marrakech is a father/son relationship drama and a road movie through Morocco. 17-year-old Ben and his father have little in common, so when Ben visits his dad on a theatre tour in Marrakech, he decides to escape with a young Berber girl, Karima, to the Atlas Mountains. His father starts looking for his son, and when they both finally find each other in the desert, it is the beginning of a careful approach towards each other.
What inspired you to tell this particular story?
CL: I realized how many kids, boys and girls, grow up without their fathers in my surroundings. Most of the time they feel very close to their mothers and care for them tremendously. But even if you hate the second half of your ‘genetic material,’ you want to know and understand who you are. In Exit Marrakech, my 17-year-old protagonist despises his father, and still he wants to challenge him and find out if he cares at all for him. In search of his father’s love, he tries to understand who he himself really is.
Coming-of-age stories are a classic genre. What makes Exit Marrakech unique?
CL: My third protagonist is definitely Morocco. It’s not just a background; it adds a unique atmosphere of danger, temptation and seduction. The way we tried to film this country is authentic and real, not a place of postcard images.
How did the exotic foreign landscape play into your filming process?
CL: Filming on the streets in an Islamic country can be difficult. Many people just don’t want to be photographed. We always tried to capture good scenes in public places with a mix of paid extras and hidden cameras.
What do you want audiences to take away from your film?
CL: If I have a message, it might be that we all make mistakes and that we should be able to forgive. Ben has to forgive his father for not being there for him, and through that he can grow and mature.
Do you have one piece of advice for aspiring filmmakers?
CL: Love your actors! They are all you have!
What are you most looking forward to at the 2013 Hamptons International Film Festival?
CL: Traveling with movies is so much fun! To share your vision and idea of life with others is such a privilege. I’m looking very much forward to seeing new movies and meeting other filmmakers from all over the world. That’s just the best.
Caroline Link was born in Bad Nauheim in 1964 and studied at the University of Television & Film in Munich. Her graduation film Sommertage (’91) won the Kodak Award at the Hof Film Festival. Her 1996 feature debut Beyond Silence (Jenseits Der Stille) was nominated in 1998 for the Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film and received the Bavarian Film Award, the German Film Award in Silver, and the Guild Film Award in Gold, among other commendations. Her other films include: the Erich Kästner-adaption Annaluise And Anton (’99), Glück Zum Anfassen (’89), Bunte Blumen (’88), and the Academy Award®-winning Nowhere In Africa (HIFF Opening Night Film, ’01) for which she also received German Film Awards for Best Film and Best Director as well as the Special Jury Prize at Karlovy Vary in 2002. Her latest feature is Exit Marrakech (’13).