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14 UAE films, filmmakers to compete for honours in Dubai International Film Festival’s first Muhr Emirati competition

Mon Nov 29,2010

The Muhr Emirati competition, introduced earlier this year to round out the Festival’s prestigious Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica competitions, shortlisted the 14 films from more than 30 entries. The films, which offer rare and authentic glimpses into life in the country, are also a measure of the growing talent pool and technical expertise in the country.

Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Artistic Director, Dubai International Film Festival: “Since the Festival began in 2004, DIFF has maintained a dedicated space for Emirati films and filmmakers, one that has continued to grow over the years to match the evolution of the local talent base. We are very heartened by the results of our efforts, and extremely proud to host a rich and varied selection of quality films for our first Muhr Emirati competition.

“Developing a local film industry is a painstaking and time-consuming process. We are delighted that talented youth in the UAE have recognized and leveraged the opportunities on offer at DIFF, and are contributing to establishing a full-fledged UAE-based film industry,” he added.

Abdulla Al Kaabi’s The Philosopher, is based on ‘Baggio’s Story’ by Charlie Fish. Baggio is a successful Parisian, a pianist, footballer and bon vivant, yet he feels there is something missing from his life and one day decides to rid himself of all his possessions and embark on a life of aesthetic contemplation. However, things don’t quite go according to plan. The Philosopher, starring Jean Reno, will be a DIFF red carpet gala screening at the Madinat Arena on December 18, and will also screen at CineStar Mall of the Emirates (MoE) on December 18 and 19.

Nayla Al Khaja’s Malal, an Emirati production set in the Indian state of Kerala, revolves around a young Emirati couple on their honeymoon. Their approach to the relationship and commitment to the marriage is the theme of the film, providing a revealing and frank insight into the realities of arranged marriages and the challenges faced by modern-day Emirati couples. The new film, pictured in India, from the award-winning Emirati director will screen at the MoE on December 15 and 17.


Theatre and film actor Ali Al Jabri’s short film Solo, also screening at MoE on December 15 and 17, narrates the story of a musician who was unable to achieve his pursuit of music. The censored music of his instrument can now be heard by people.

Rajulan Wa Anza – Laylat Ma Qabl Al Eid (Two Guys and a Goat – The Night Before Eid) by Saeed Aldhaheri revolves around the rising cost of buying a goat. Two enterprising young men find a creative solution: to steal a goat and cook it in front of its helpless owner, who has been tied up. Audiences at MoE on December 14 and 16 can follow the goat-rustlers as their meticulously laid plans go awry.

Rashid and Ahmed Bin Shabib, the co-founders of Brownbook, the region’s leading arts and culture periodical, are the driving forces behind one of the films aimed at exploring the urban culture of the region. Through a series of conversations with individuals transforming the UAE’s urban scene through its food, design, arts or other creative means, the film Brownbook Urban Series – Ten Episodes of People Transforming the Region, paints an interesting picture of the future. The film will screen at MoE theatres on December 18 and 19.

Writer-director Muna Al Ali’s film Ea’ada (Rewind) considers an often-asked question: What would happen if we could delve into our memories and change the course of events, or even delete them entirely? Her short film will screen at the MoE on December 15 and 17.

Elsewhere, award-winning director Waleed Al Shehhi returns to DIFF for a fourth year with allegorical short film Reeh (Wind), which begins as a young child steps on a rusty nail, which slowly infects his blood. The film will also screen at MoE on December 15 and 17.

Ahmed Zain’s Etma (Darkness), showing at MoE on December 14 and 16, is a sweet nostalgic film about the life of a postman in a bygone era. Set in the early years of the UAE’s existence, we meet a postman whose daily life revolves around two major touchstones – his job and his son. From both, he draws (and provides) support and love.

Moath Bin Hafez’s Hayat Min Sakhar (Life of Stone) portrays the story of Saeed Al Thuhoory, a 70-year old man from Shaam, Ras Al Khaimah. Since the age of 10, he has worked with his father, quarrying rocks and stones from the mountains that surround the emirate. Hayat Min Sakhar (Life of Stone) can be seen at MoE on December 18 and 19.

Saud Mohammed Merwesh’s Soweer captures the reality and imagination of a traditional children’s game. His short film will screen at MoE on December 14 and 16.

Filmed earlier this year in Dubai, Ghawas Gaza (Gaza Diver), a documentary by award-winning photographer Ali Khalifa Bin Thalith, follows courageous Palestinian teenager Khalil al Jedaili, who lost his legs after a horrific bombing of his grandmother’s home in Gaza. Brought to Dubai in March to be fitted for prosthetic legs, the young man decided to start practicing scuba diving while he was here. The film, which tracks his journey, will screen on December 18 and 19.

Rasa’el Ela Falasteen (Letters To Palestine), a documentary by Rashid Al-Marri, features the voices of Emiratis and UAE residents sending their oral letters to Palestinian people living under occupation. From young to old, the Arabs captured in this film have the chance to send their stories and their love to the homes, families and children of Palestine. The film will screen at MoE on December 14 and 16.

Two additional films are also competing in both the Muhr Emirati and the Festival’s Muhr Arab competition. Khalid Al Mahmood’s Sabeel, the story of two young boys in Ras Al Khaimah tending and selling vegetables to help their ailing grandmother, will make its Middle East premiere at DIFF after scooping awards and accolades in New York and Locarno.

Lastly, the documentary film Hamama, from award-winning director Nujoom Al Ghanem, follows the 90-year-old female healer and living legend from Al Dhaid. Sought out by hundreds of people every day, Hamama struggles to care for all those who need it while confronting her own infirmities and hardships. The film, a world premiere, will screen on December 15 and 17.

A three-member jury, including film critic Samir Farid (president), writer-poet and Riyadh Film Festival veteran Ahmed Al-Mulla and poet/critic Ibrahim Abdul Karim Al Mulla, will select three competition winners to be announced at the awards ceremony on December 19. Introduced this year as a companion to the Festival’s existing Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica awards, the Muhr Emirati Awards features a first prize of AED 35,000, a special jury prize of AED 25,000 and a second prize of AED 15,000. 

The DIFF 2010 box office is now open at the Mall of the Emirates, Madinat Souk and the CNN Building in Dubai Media City. Tickets can also be purchased through DIFF’s Dial-a-Ticket service at (04) 3913378 and from the website www.dubaifilmfest.com.

The seventh edition of Dubai International Film Festival 2010 will be held from December 12 to 19. DIFF 2010 is held in association with Dubai Studio City. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah, the home of the Dubai International Film Festival, are the principal sponsors of DIFF. The event is supported by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.

Accreditation for DIFF 2010 as well as the DIFF box office is now open. For more and updated information about DIFF, please visit www.dubaifilmfest.com

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