EXPANDED MUHR AWARDS GALLOPS BACK FOR SECOND YEAR
Mon Nov 26,2007
Dubai, November 26, 2007: The Muhr Awards for Excellence in Arab Cinema, an important initiative from the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) enters its second year for DIFF 2007, and will include 7 World Premieres in its three competition categories of Features, Documentaries and Shorts.
The Competition has introduced seven additional awards this year to honour the diverse facets of filmmaking talent. New awards categories will be: Best Actor and Best Actress, which will both carry a prize of USD 10, 000, and Best Scriptwriter, Best Cinematographer, Best Editor and Best Composer, all of which will carry a cash prize of USD 7, 000.
The segment of the Muhr Awards that honours UAE filmmakers has also been broadened to include the categories of Best Emirati Filmmaker, Best Emirati Female Filmmaker and Best Emirati Talent. All carry cash prizes of AED 20, 000.
The Gold, Silver and Bronze film prizes will remain the same in the second year of the Competition; Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes in the Best Feature category will still carry prizes of USD 50 000, 40 000 and 30 000 respectively, while Documentary prizes are USD 40 000, 30 000, and 20 000. In the Shorts category, prizes are USD 30 000, 20 000 and 10 000.
Masoud Amralla al Ali, DIFF’s Artistic Director and Coordinator General of the Muhr Awards Competition, said: “In our second year the response from filmmakers has been overwhelmingly positive. Over 300 films were submitted in the Competition, and a number of those selected are world premieres. The high caliber of the films demanded that we increase the number of films in each category from 10 to 12. It is an indicator of the trust between filmmakers and DIFF that they chose to show their films here, and we are proud of the quality of cinema we are able to showcase for festival guests this year.”
Associate Director of the Competition Mohammed Rouda concurred: “This year we have a diversity of topics, in addition to the social issues and current political situation of the Arab world. Arab cinema is no longer stopping at presenting issues, but trying to draw attention to artistic and stylistic techniques.”
Films were submitted from all over the Arab world, as well as North America and Europe; a high number of entrants were from North Africa, notably Egypt, Morocco, Alegeria and Tunisia, followed by Palestine and Lebanon. There was also high numbers of entrants from the USA (21), France (15) and the UK (7).
The selected films will be judged by prominent filmmakers and critics. In the categories of Features and Shorts, jurors are: Lebanese film critic Pierre Abi Saab, Algerian filmmaker Djamila Al Sahraoui, German filmmaker Margarethe Von Trotta, Bahraini director Bassam Al-Thawadi, Italian producer Renzo Rosselini, American director Michael Cimino, and Egyptian Novelist Miral El-Tahawi. In the category of Short films, jurors are: German film critic Elmar Biebl, filmmaker Khadija Al-Salami from Yemen, Palestinian director Rashid Masharawi, and festival directors Magda Wassef of Egypt and Ronald Trisch of Germany.
A number of prominent Arab filmmakers are among the nominees: Egyptian director Mohammed Khan brings his country’s submission for the Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar, Fi Shaket Masr el Gedeeda (In the Heliopolis Flat), about a woman’s search for her music teacher; Abdellatif Abdelhamid, one of Syria’s best directors, comes back with Kahrej Altaghtya (Out of Coverage), the story of a man who might have gone too far in rendering a service to his imprisoned friend; Moroccan director Ahmed El Maanouni returns after years of absence with Al Koloub al Mouhtariqua (Burned Hearts), which follows a prodigal nephew’s return to his dying uncle; and prolific documentarian Mai Masri brings 33 Yaoum (33 Days), which chronicles the daily lives of four young people during the summer days of 2006 in Lebanon.
A number of the films incorporate unusual techniques or subject matter: Ana Falastini (Soy Palestino), from director Oussama Qashoo, uncovers the Palestinos, an underclass of poor migrants from the East of Cuba; Tariq Hashem’s www.gilgamesh.21 depicts the dialogue between two Iraqis, one far removed in exile and one living in Baghdad; the highly unusual Soneaa fi Masr (made in Egypt) follows a Frenchman as he searches for his Egyptian roots; Samer Najari’s short film Al Asfoor al Sagheer Sayataleq (Before the Wind Blows) blends photography and cinema in the story of three young people about to depart on suicide operations; Etar (A Frame) is a semi-silent Saudi short about a person owned by his memories; and Le Café des Pecheurs (The Fishermen’s Break) projects the life and dreams of a fisherman with intense realism.
Many of the films take on everyday stories of community, family, life and death. Balad el Banat (Girls) follows four flatmates beginning their adult lives; Shoft al Nojoum fe al Gayleh (And I Saw Stars) traces the history of boxing in Tunisia; Alwan al Sama al Sabaa (Seventh Heaven) follows lovers trying to overcome the past; in the Jordanian Captain Abu Raed, a janitor befriends a group of children who believe he is an airline pilot; La Graine et le Mulet (The Secret of the Grain) follows a shipyard worker in France who opens a restaurant with his lover and wife; in La Maison Jaune (The Yellow House), 12-year old Aya must help her family overcome heavy grief; El Ezz (Garbage) depicts a lonely man in love with his neighbour; Haresat al Ma’a (The Water Guard) celebrates birth in a time of drought; Iqa’a (Percussion Kid) is a child punished for his love of percussion; Jerusalem HD follows a girl surrounded by the graves of her ancestors; Sarah follows the a woman who meets her mother for the first and last time; UAE film Tenback deals with racism; and Vois-Moi (See Me) tells the story of lonely Saïd and beautiful Leila.
Dealing with social justice and exclusion, Ea-adat Khalk (Recycle) follows a former mujahadeen soldier as he struggles to cope with civilian life in Jordan; Lawn al Tadheyah (The Colour of Sacrifice) uncovers the injustices faced by Algerian World War II veterans in France; Magharat Maria (Maria’s Grotto) explores the pressing issue of honour killings in Palestine; Qamar 14 (Full Bloom) follows a 21-year-old boxing champion banned from training because he refuses to compete with Israelis; and Sit Kosas Adyyah (Six Ordinary Stories) follows taxi drivers in Damascus, where many men drive to make ends meet.
Many of the films deal with the impact of conflict: the Tunisian feature Akher Film (Making Of) follows three characters on a film shoot endangered by the war on Iraq; Taht el Qasef (Under the Bombs) explores interfaith love in the South of Lebanon during the summer of 2006; Wa-Ala el Ard el Sama’a (Falling From Earth) sees wise fool Youssef excavating photographs from the ruins of a Beirut high-rise; Khallas is also set in Lebanon, where three friends who survived the civil war find that the reconstruction is just as difficult; Dhil al Gheyab (Shadow of Absence) tells the stories of Palestinians all over the world; Kalimat Ba’ad al Harb (Words in the Wake of War) interviews Lebanese artists and intellectuals after the 2006 ceasefire; L’Armee des Fourmis (Army of Ants) explores what is underfoot in South Lebanon, and Habl el Ghaseel (The Clothesline) is about a woman imprisoned in her Ramallah apartment by the Israeli invasion in 2002.
Muhr Awards screenings are open to the public and offer a glimpse of ground-breaking cinema. They will take place throughout DIFF 2007, which runs from December 9 to 16.
DIFF’s Principal Sponsors are Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Pearl, Emirates and Jumeirah.
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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