Sun Nov 23,2008

World Cinema Authorities Converge on Dubai for DIFF Muhr Awards

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has announced the teams of international film industry figureheads who will preside over the Muhr Awards, expanded this year to include Muhr AsiaAfrica as well as the established Muhr Awards for Excellence in Arab Cinema.

The competitions will award a total prize of USD 576 000 across the categories of Feature films, Documentaries and Shorts. Entries have been received from all over the world.

DIFF’s Artistic Director and Director General of the Competition, Masoud Amralla al Ali, stated: “To have gathered the caliber of specialists that we have been able to assemble is remarkable in itself, but more so for a festival that is as young as DIFF. Their participation indicates the level to which Dubai has achieved legitimacy in the international industry.”

“We are honoured to host our judges,  who represent between them hundreds of awards, esteemed productions, and years of experience in the global film industry. They do not have an easy task ahead of them—the jurors must now differentiate between the most intelligent and ground-breaking films around the world this year. Festival-goers can participate by viewing the Muhr films and enjoying some surprising and diverse selections.”

Muhr Arabic Feature Films will be judged by an acclaimed team chaired by Russian filmmaker Sergei Bodrov and comprising Ahmed El Maanouni, Moroccan writer, director,  cinematographer and producer; legendary Arab actress Lebleba; and novelist and activist Ahdaf Soueif.

The jury team for Muhr AsiaAfrica features is made up of critic of Africultures Olivier Barlet; Park Ki-yong, co-director of the Cinema Digital Seoul Film Festival; Iranian filmmaker and actress Niki Karimi; and Christian Jeune of the Cannes Film Festival. The jury will be chaired by renowned Indian filmmaker Adoor Gopalkrishnan.

The Documentary Section of the Arabic Muhr Awards will be chaired by Geoffrey Gilmore, Director of the Sundance Film Festival and judged by Jehane Noujaim, director of the highly acclaimed film Control Room; and Hany Abu-Assad, director of Paradise Now. Muhr AsiaAfrica Documentaries will be reviewed by Yano Kazuyuki, co-founder of film distribution company Cinematrix; Jean Marie Teno, African documentary filmmaker; and chair of the jury, trailblazing Iranian filmmaker Rakhsan Bani Etemad.    

The Short Section of the Muhr Arabic Awards is comprised of chairman Khairy  Beshara, prolific filmmaker and teacher; Lebanese actress Carmen Lebbos; and Lars Henrik Gass, director of the International Oberhausen Short Film Festival since October 1997. Muhr AsiaAfrica shorts will be chaired by award-winning Japanese director Naomi Kawase and judged by German filmmaker Dorothee Wenner and South African producer Jeremy Nathan.

For the first time, DIFF has partnered with the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI), to launch the annual “Prize of the International Critics”  for best feature film in the Muhr Awards for Excellence in Arab Cinema. The jury for this award will be chaired by Jean Roy, Vice-President of the French Film Journalists Union; film critic Rui Tendinha; Latika Padgaonkaris,  Joint Director of Osian’s-Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema; and film critics Mahmoud Jemni and Hussein Bayoumy Hassan.

All Muhr Awards screenings will take place during DIFF 2008, which will run from December 11 to 18. Winning films will be screened on December 19 and 20.

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