Keisha Castle Hughes in The Nativity Story, photo courtesy New
Line Cinema.

It’s highly possible that you’ve seen at least some half-dozen movies filmed on location in Morocco and not even known it. Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and the Sahara Desert, this North African country has stood in for locales in movies as diverse as the classic Lawrence of Arabia to the most recent incarnation of The Hills Have Eyes. In fact, since foreign filming began there in 1987, more than 500 movies have featured the country’s universal landscape as the backdrop. Directors choosing to film in the region have included Bernardo Bertolucci (The Sheltering Sky), Alfred Hitchcock (The Man Who Knew Too Much) and Martin Scorsese (Kundun and The Last Temptation of Christ).

Among the commitments listed by the Moroccan Cinematographic Centre are government cooperation, military and police assistance, a simplified procedure for the importing and exporting of shooting material and professional, trained crews experienced in working with foreign productions. Each year the country sees the production of an average 30 films, but in 2004 alone, 93 U.S. films were permitted production visas.

Most recently audiences would have seen the beauty of this “Western Kingdom” in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel. It will also be featured in Catherine Hardwicke’s The Nativity Story, out December 1st. The movie follows the Biblical characters of Mary (Academy Award nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes of Whale Rider) and Joseph (Oscar Isaac) as they deal with the miracle birth of Jesus. While much of the film was set in Italy, key scenes of Herod’s castle and the temple of Jerusalem made use of the beautiful Moroccan landscape.

The following movies also offer visuals of Morocco’s mountains, coasts and dunes include:

The Man Who Would Be King
Hideous Kinky

For more information on filming in Morocco, visit

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