Australia's movie industry has attracted the attention of cinema-goers in Morocco - with a special award at the Marrakech film festival
Australia sent a 22-person delegation of actors, directors and producers to attend the Festival which dedicated its country tribute to Australia.
The tribute celebrated Australia's success in building an artistically and commercially vibrant sector from the mid 1970s onwards, after the industry had virtually disappeared with the advent of sound cinema.
British actor Tilda Swinton, this year's jury president, has a direct family link to the country, since her mother was born in New South Wales.
In Swinton's speech she referred to Nic Roeg's "Walkabout" (1971), which featured David Gulpilil - "the first Aboriginal Australian that I ever saw, who tipped us into the dreamscape of his ancestors once and for all."
The atmosphere on stage, as the 22 Aussie filmmakers received a standing ovation, was one of pride and achievement.
Actor Simon Baker was asked why Australian cinema has developed so strongly over recent years: "We have a great history and storytelling culture," he replied. "We have a 60,000 years old indigenous culture, with a completely oral history. I think that's reflected in our storytelling culture. We're all here because coming to a festival like Marrakech opens a window onto our world and allows us to share our stories. It's powerful."
Actor Ben Mendelsohn added: "We made the world's first feature film. If you're an Australian, you make sure you do things first. It's a wonderful thing to be here with this lovely distinguished group of people. I'm very proud to be part of it."
After a medley of shots from classic Australian films, two didgeridoo players heralded the arrival of the delegation, which received a standing ovation.
Director Gillian Armstrong spoke on behalf of her colleagues, thanking the festival foundation and joking "If you give them a free ticket, they'll go anywhere."
She said the country's cinema is important because it's about "our identity as Australians. It is what makes us unique, our often oblique language - 'You're terrible, Muriel,' 'You gotta be dreaming,' 'You're dropped,' our idioms, our character, our diversity, our rather special humour and our outlook on life - having a go, a fair go. Our sounds.
"The chills that only we feel at the romantic summer cacophony of cicadas, blowflies and lawnmowers. Our sausage sizzles and kebabs. Not pancakes and maple syrup. Not the high-school problem or Thanksgiving. Our own history, our heroes, our dark side and coming-of-age stories and our own underdogs. We love home, we love our losers and best of all we love to laugh at ourselves."
The delegation then received a trophy before exiting stage, to the sounds and images of George Miller's "Mad Max" .
Australian Associated Press