Accomplished film professionals on jury of DIFF’s Muhr Awards

Sun Dec 06,2009

Accomplished film professionals from around the world will evaluate the merits and pick the 28 winners of Dubai International Film Festival’s Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica awards this year.

The jury for the six award categories – Features, Documentaries and Shorts for both Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica – has been drawn globally and includes film makers, actors, critics and industry experts. They are evaluating short-listed films, selected from over 900 entries, for prizes in acting, cinematography, editing, music and scriptwriting, in addition to general excellence and jury awards. The total prize money is US$575,000.

Algerian writer, director and producer Ahmed Rachidi (President); Moroccan writer and film critic Mostafa Messnaoui; Edouard Waintrop, Artistic Director of the Fribourg International Film Festival, Egyptian actor Khalid El Sawi and South African Tim Smythe, Producer of City of Life are judging the Muhr Arab Features category.

Judging the Muhr Asia Africa Features are Iranian film director, screen writer and producer Bahman Farmanara (President), Indian actress and UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador Manisha Koirala; critic and film historian, Jean-Michel Frodon; film curator and founder/director Africa at the Pictures (festival for African films in London), Keith Shiri and Moroccan filmmaker Noor Eddine Lakhmari.

Judging the Muhr Arab Documentaries are Omar Amiralay (President), the renowned Syrian filmmaker who is currently founding the Arab Institute for Film for young documentary filmmakers in the region; Omar Al-Qattan, a director and producer of a number of critically acclaimed productions including US Network’s ‘Muhammad-Legacy of a Prophet’ (2002), and Alan Franey, Director of the Vancouver Film Festival.

A trio of movie luminaries is involved in the Muhr Asia Africa Documentary jury, notably poet and contemporary Indian film maker Buddhadeb Dasgupta (President), award-winning actor and film maker Mohammed Bakri and Cameroonian filmmaker and journalist Osvalde Lewat.

Leading Indian artist Maqbool Fida Husain (President) regarded internationally as the most important India artist of the 20th century; Egyptian documentary filmmaker Saad Hendawy and Clare Stewart, Festival Director of the Sydney Film Festival, are the jurors for the Muhr Arab/ and Asia Africa Short category.

DIFF’s Artistic Director and Director General of the Competition Masoud Amralla Al Ali, said the Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica awards have played an instrumental role in encouraging filmmakers in the region to create powerful, meaningful cinema, and established DIFF as a definitive platform for talent from the Arab world, Africa and Asia.

“The Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica awards are quite competitive and we have drawn the best of film industry professionals from across the world for the jury. This year’s jury reads like a ‘who’s who’ of Arab cinema, supported by a number of international experts. Between them they have an unparalleled wealth of movie-watching experience and insight.”

All Muhr Awards screenings will take place during DIFF 2009, which will run from December 9 to 16.

In the three years since its inception, the Muhr Awards have recognised more than 50 Arab filmmakers and talents. Last year’s Muhr winners included Algerian drama Masquerades (Features), The North Road (Shorts) and Memory of the Cactus: A story of three Palestinian Villages (Documentary), while the winners in the Muhr AsiaAfrica competition included Treeless Mountain (Features), Young Blood by China’s Haolun Shu (Shorts) and Mental (Documentary).

DIFF 2009 is held in association with Dubai Studio City. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah are the principal sponsors of DIFF and the event is supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture). Full listings of films can be accessed via the DIFF website ( and downloaded on to your mobile phone.

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