Marrakech, Operation Escargot, Angelina & Capitalism …

Spent a sun-filled few days in Marrakech photographing their International Film Festival. The festival is a nice break from the cold weather in Paris, but lacks the excitement and ambiance of other big festivals.

My Favorite Red Carpet Outfit

It’s a challenge working among the Moroccan photographers because they work more like paparazzi. Every photographer has an assigned place but as soon as a star arrives, the Moroccan photogs go nuts and basically move towards the star, not caring at all about other photographers. There was plenty of pushing and shoving going on, kind of like what happens more frequently at fashion shows.

There were two notable events at the festival. The first was a tribute to an actor I really enjoy – Christopher Walken.

Christopher Walken

I have watched and loved this scene from Pulp Fiction so many times (fast forward to start at 2 minutes if you’re pressed for time).

The second was a pretty disturbing moment. One evening while the attendees and stars were arriving on the red carpet, a young woman managed to evade the plethora of security guards and actually ride her scooter at high speed up the 50-foot red carpet ramp. Thankfully she managed not to hit anyone; when she made it to the top of the ramp (the entry to the palace), security guards knocked her off the scooter and she, along with the scooter, fell over the side of the ramp. At the closest point, I was about 10 feet away from her and I could see that she had an eerie smile on her face. After the initial shock of seeing a scooter coming up the red carpet, I think the worst nightmare went through everyone’s mind – a suicide bomber. It was a perfect scenario, just what you might expect to see before someone detonated a bomb.

It turned out that the young woman was mentally deranged and she was under the belief that the only way she could get into the festival was to ride in. There wasn’t a real threat of an attack but we didn’t know that while it was happening. At first I thought maybe I saw it this way because I am American and the threat of terrorism has been so prominent in our world in recent years. But after talking to some of the local Moroccan photographers, they too thought that they were in big trouble. My biggest regret of the festival was missing the photo of the girl on the scooter.

I returned back to Paris to Orly airport to be greeted by what’s called “Operation Escargot”. Operation Escargot is a form of protest organized by the local taxi association. The association organizes a large number of taxis to simultaneously get on the highway and go at exceptionally slow speeds, blocking all the traffic coming into Paris. Well, it worked really well. It took me 2 hours via bus and Paris taxi to make the trip that ordinarily takes 25 minutes. That was fun after a 3-hour flight. I’m not even sure exactly what the taxis were protesting but I heard it was the fact that now motorcycle/scooter taxis are taking some of there business.

Allowed myself a treat this week, one I haven’t experience since I first arrived in Paris … a hot chocolate at Angelina.

Hot Chocolate at Angelina

Their famous hot chocolate, called l’Africain, is pretty close to perfect and is served with an unsweetened whipped cream that has no taste on its own but blends really well with the chocolate. There’s often a line to get in the place because it’s in every guide book but if you’re here when it’s cold (or even when it’s not), it’s worth taking a break and indulging.

And finally, I saw Michael Moore’s new movie “Capitalism: A Love Story”. I enjoyed the film, like I do all his films, and I left the theater with a familiar feeling. Moore allows for some spin/inaccuracies in his films in order to help make his point more dramatically. Sometimes he probably goes too far but one thing is consistent in his movies – I find he’s always right about the point he’s making, even if the way he goes about making it can be criticized for using too much hyperbole.

Some photos of the week …

Emir Kusturica

In the Souk

Coke Fishing

Not Sure What Happened

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