DIFF RECOGNIZES TOP TALENTS AT AWARDS CEREMONY
Mon Dec 17,2007
Dubai, December 15, 2007: The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) is drawing to a close, and tonight will see the best cinema in the festival’s fourth edition recognized in the second annual Muhr Awards for Excellence in Cinema.
The festival has also announced the results of the Dubai Film Connection (DFC), established this year with a mandate to bring international film professionals into contact with the Arab filmmaking community. DFC selected 15 filmmakers to consult and strategize three days with sales agents, producers and major broadcasters.
Three winning projects were awarded USD 15 000 each. These projects as well as one special mention will be invited to attend the prestigious 2008 Cannes Producers Network: Amreeka, by Canadian-Palestinian filmmaker Cherien Dabis, Man Without a Cell Phone, a satire about Palestinian Israelis by Sameh Zaobi, and One Man Village, a film about healing and reconciliation in Lebanon by Simon el Habre. Special Mention went to Ziad Doueiri’s Man in the Middle, a thrilling story about Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. A 5000 Euro prize from French broadcaster Arte went to Fix Me, a meditation on mental health and conflict by director Raed Andoni.
The Muhr Awards competition was expanded this year, and included films from all over the Middle East. Masoud Amralla al Ali, DIFF’s Artistic Director and Coordinator General of Competition, said: “This year our jury had difficulty choosing winners because of the superlative quality of most of the submissions, both from a story and production value standpoint. We intend for the Muhr Awards to instigate the production of more Arabic films in the region. The Middle East is full of creativity, and our roster of winners proves that unequivocally.”
The prizes for Short Films were as follows: Bronze went to El Ezz (Garbage), by Tunisian director Lotfi Achour, which depicts a lonely night watchman in love with his neighbour. UAE film Haresat al Ma’a (The Water Guard), from director Waleed al Shehhi, won Silver, and Sarah, by Belgian director Khdija Leclere, won Gold.
The Bronze Muhr for Documentary went to journalist, writer and filmmaker Nassri Hajjaj’s Dhil al Gheyab (Shadow of Absence), about Palestinian anxiety about what Hajjaj calls ‘the site of burial.’ Silver went to Palestinian director Buthina Canaan Khoury for Magharat Maria (Maria’s Grotto), which explores honour killing in Palestine. The Gold Muhr went to Karim Goury’s stylistically unusual Soneaa fi Masr (Made in Egypt), which follows a Frenchman as he searches for his Egyptian roots.
The winning feature films covered a broad swathe of the Middle East: Bronze feature La Graine et le Mulet (The Secret of the Grain) was directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, a Tunisian actor and set in France. The comedic Akher Film (Making Of), in which Tunisian director (who has directed Abdellatif Kechiche in previous films) Nouri Bouzid plays himself in a film depicting a film shoot in danger of being interrupted by the American invasion of Iraq, won Silver. The film also took away the Best Composer award for Nejib Charradi.
The Gold Muhr was won by Taht el Qasef (Under the Bombs), which explores interfaith love in Southern Lebanon between a Shi’a woman and a Christian man. Filmmaker Phillippe Aractingi reacted to the 2006 war by commencing filming in July, in the heat of the bombings. Under the Bombs also won a Best Actress Muhr for Nada Abou Fahat, who played Zeina, the Lebanese Shi’a woman who rushes into the war zone to save her son.
Best Actor went to UK-based Jordanian actor Nadim Sawalha for his role in Captain Abu Raed, where he plays an airport janitor who befriends a group of children in his poor neighbourhood.
Lebanese filmmaker Borhane Alaouie’s Khalass took away two awards: the Best Screenplay award for Alaouie himself, and Best Editor Award for France Duez. Best Cinematographer went to Pierre Boffety for his photography of Burnt Hearts
In the section of the Muhr Awards that recognizes Emirati talent, three awards were presented. The prize for Best Emirati Talent went to Mohammed Saeed Harib, creator of the Freej series. Best Emirati Female Filmmaker was presented to Nayla Al Khaja, and Best Emirati Filmmaker went to Ali Mostafa.
The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) was launched in December 2004 under the theme: Bridging Cultures. Meeting Minds.
DIFF is held under the honorary Chairmanship of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. DIFF is a not-for-profit cultural event, presented and organised by the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority.
As the previous editions of DIFF have demonstrated, the Festival not only presents cinematic excellence from around the world, but is also an important high-profile platform for aspiring home-grown talent.
“Bridging Cultures. Meeting Minds,” has been hailed by all as a unique and relevant theme to promote better understanding and mutual respect between different communities and countries.
Since its inception, DIFF has become an important meeting point for international and regional filmmakers and industry professionals setting the foundation for potential future collaborations.
The past three editions of DIFF have presented more than 250 films, documentaries and shorts from more than 48 countries.
In 2006 the festival took place at the magnificent Madinat Jumeirah resort. As a further commitment of DIFF’s endeavours to facilitate greater opportunities for regional Arab talent, the Muhr Awards was launched. Another first for DIFF in 2006 was the setting up of the Industry Office, which was established with a view to exclusively assist the needs of all registered delegates.
The fourth edition of the Dubai International Film Festival will take place from December 9-16 and will present the best of Arab and international cinema in the feature film, shorts and documentary formats. Building on the success of last year, DIFF 2007 will also host the Muhr Awards and the Industry Office with new features.
For any further information and regular updates on DIFF 2007 please log on to www.dubaifilmfest.com
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