'Moroccan Hollywood' invests 27.3 million euros to step up production capacity by 2016


The southern Moroccan city of Ouarzazate intends to multiply its film-making revenue by seven and become the Hollywood of the Mediterranean.

"Morocco will disburse 43 million dirhams (27.3 million euros) so that by 2016, 38 feature films will be shot every year in Ouarzazate (as opposed to 11 currently), raising close to two billion dirhams," said the authorities of the city, twinned with Los Angeles, in a statement.

Beginning in 1949, Ouarzazate -- one of the most profitable film-making regions in the Mediterranean Basin -- welcomed the film crew for Orson Welles' "Othello." Since then, hosting Hollywood super productions has become a tradition for this gateway to the desert.

From David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia", to Martin Scorcese's "The Last Temptation of Christ", to several Ridley Scott films (including the recently wrapped up "Body of Lies" with Leonardo Di Caprio), the varied landscapes of southern Morocco have been a stage for feature films, advertisements and documentaries.

Following the example of Warner Bros Studios in Hollywood or Dreamworld Film City in Cape Town, South Africa, Ouarzazate is proposing supplementary infrastructure and diversified services, notably for pre- and post-production.

In 2005, the so-called "Moroccan Hollywood", which had two studios, added CLA studios, one of the biggest in the world, in a joint venture with Dini de Laurentis and Cinecitta of Italy. Subsequently, numerous film schools have opened in the country to train local personnel for foreign productions.

Finally, Morocco will step up incentives such as nominal fees for filming in historic sites, reductions on air transport, exemptions on taxes for goods and services paid for in the country, as well as the availability of official state forces for cinematic purposes.

Filmaker South Africa