New York, NY (October 29, 2013) – Academy Award-winning filmmaker Jonathan Demme will present Morocco’s official entry for the 2014 Academy Awards, director Nabil Ayouch's “Horses of God,” for distribution in the United States.

Demme and Ayouch met at the Marrakesh Film Festival last December where "Horses of God" Demme was presented on the heels of its world at 2012 Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section. "Horses of God” has won top international plaudits from 19 films festivals, among them the Golden Spike at Spain’s Valladolid Festival, the Best Director Award at the Seattle International Film Festival, and the François Chalais Prize at Cannes. Ayouch was invited to be a "filmmaker in Residence" at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville New York last spring, where Demme serves on the Board of Directors. Ayouch screened "Horses of God" while in residence there and the film so captured the imagination of the JBFC leaders that they have actively supported the effort to gain distribution for the film in the United States.

"'Horses of God' is simply one of the very most powerful pictures that I have ever seen. Extraordinarily gripping and moving, the cinematic style is really breath-taking. I can't remember being so blown away by the marriage of visuals and story-telling since the first time I saw Marty Scorsese’s "Mean Streets" and Bertolucci's "The Conformist" way back then. Along with the Jacob Burns Film Center, I am tremendously proud to be a part of bringing this vitally important film to America, beginning with its special screening at the Austin Film Festival this month. It came as no surprise to me when Morocco selected "Horses of God" as its entry for the Oscars last month, it is such an amazing movie."

Inspired by the mass real-life 2003 suicide bombings, Ayouch's film is a thoughtful and affecting inquiry into how ordinary people come to do desperate, unfathomable things. A major achievement by one of North Africa's most important filmmakers, the film was hugely successful both at Cannes and in its native Morocco, winning acclaim from the public and critics alike. “Horses of God” is written by Jamal Belmahi and inspired by Mahi Binebine’s novel, The Stars of Sidi Moumen. It was co-produced and distributed in France by Pierre Ange Le Pogam’s Stone Angels. U.S. theatrical rights for the film are being sold by Wild Bunch.

Ayouch said, “Jonathan Demme is one of the masters of contemporary American cinema and "The Silence of the lambs" remains for me an inexhaustible source of inspiration. I am proud that Jonathan decided to present "Horses of God" in the United States. Today more than ever, the American audience needs to listen to another voice on a phenomenon as sensitive as terrorism. Violence has a source and these children of the shanty towns of Casablanca are there to remind us of it.”


Jonathan Demme began his film career as a writer and producer for Roger Corman in 1971, and has gone on to direct and produce more than 30 movies. Demme’s films, which have been nominated for 20 Academy Awards, include “Philadelphia,” “Rachel Getting Married,” “The Manchurian Candidate,” and “Silence of the Lambs,” for which he won the Academy Award for Best Director in 1991. Demme recently released a portrait documentary “Enzo Avitabile Music Life,” which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2012. His upcoming projects include “Fear of Falling,” based on Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn's adaptation of the Ibsen play, "Master Builder Solness"; and three upcoming New Orleans portrait documentaries, “Guardians of the Flame”, “Pastor Mel",” and “Backatown,” which are along the lines of his recent film, “I'm Carolyn Parker.” He recently directed the pilot for AMC's "Line of Sight."


Nabil Ayouch’s first short film “The Blue Rocks of the Desert” (1992) marked the discovery of actor Jamel Debouzze, while his first features (starting with “Mektoub” in 1997 and “Ali Zaoua” in 2000) won more than fifty awards internationally and successively represented Morocco’s nominations for the foreign-language Oscars. He has directed several high-profile live shows, and in 1999 founded Ali n’ Productions, a company through which he helps young directors to launch their careers. In 2008 he helmed « Whatever Lola Wants » (produced by Pathé), set in Egypt and featuring an American wannabe belly-dancer, while in 2011 he released his first documentary feature film, “My Land” filmed in the Middle East. In 2012, Nabil Ayouch finished “Horses of God”, inspired by the Casablanca suicide bombings of May 16th 2003.