MARRAKECH, Morocco, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- Jemaa el-Fna Square in southern Morocco was more animated than usual on Friday evening.
Thousands of people and tourists gathered in front of a huge screen, on which the openning of the 18th Marrakech International Film Festival was broadcasted.
Located in the heart of Marrakech, Jemaa el-Fna, a World Heritage Site, is regarded as a "Sleepless Square" because of the continuous flow of people from morning to night.
On Friday evening, peddlers and jugglers of the square had to rest because the big screen firmly caught the crowd's attention.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Tilda Swinton, British actress and chairman of the jury of the festival, said "the Marrakech Film Festival is a legend... It's a beacon for cineastes around the world who come from all stretches of our planet to meet under the African sky, which gives its blessing on all us."
The festival was then officially declared open by Australian actress Naomi Watts.
After the live broadcast, the crowd in the square did not disperse, but danced with the music, waiting for screening of "King Kong" directed by New Zealand director Peter Jackson.
Open-air movie screening at the "Sleepless Square" has become a fixed part of the Marrakesh International Film Festival.
Music rested when Watts, the heroine of "King Kong," came to the ancient square. She greeted the enthusiastic crowd and unveiled the film projection.
"It's wonderful. I feel honored to be here and share this film. It still stands up, my memory of making this film. Watching outdoors this film with this audience is an incredible way. It's a powerful experience. I'll remember tonight forever," said the Australian star during an interview with Xinhua.
"This is my first participation in the Marrakech Film Festival. I have seen 'King Kong' in the cinema, but the atmosphere of watching this movie on the square is obviously better," said excitedly Malak Jbayli, a 14-year-old Moroccan girl.
Created on 2001, Marrakech International Film Festival is devoted to discover and promote new talents of cinema. After more than a decade, the film festival has become a grand cultrual event on the African continent.
Mohamed Lamdaghri, a 67-year-old Marrakech resident, has participated in every edition of the event.
According to his observation, Marrakech International Film Festival gets better every year.
Lamdaghri, who brought his family to watch "King Kong" on the square, said that the festival offers local residents opportunities to admire the charm of international movies.
The 18th edition of festival will last until Dec. 7, during which the major cinemas and the "Sleepless Square" in Marrakech will show 98 films from 34 countries and regions.
Fourteen films, including film by Chinese director, were shortlisted for the main competition and will compete for awards.