Top Arab Films Vie for DIFF Muhr Awards

Tue Nov 28,2006

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) today announced the films in the running for the inaugural Muhr Awards for Excellence in Arab Cinema. Competition films are all: made by a director of Arab nationality or origin, with subject and storyline of the film reflective of the history or culture of the Arab world.

There are three categories: Features, Documentaries and Shorts, and prizes for the top films in each, so in all, nine directors will be awarded attractive cash prizes, a Gold, Silver or Bronze award, and a DIFF certificate at a special awards ceremony on December 17, 2006 at al Sahra resort in Dubailand.

Masoud Amralla al Ali, DIFF’s Artistic Director of Arabic Programming and Coordinator General of the Muhr Awards program, expanded on the awards program: “We received many, many entries, and our international jury members will have a difficult task in finding the top three films in each category. We have ended up with films from 15 different countries. Through a fair, structured process, the jury members have selected ten short listed films in each category, and we are happy that these will receive the attention they deserve. They are excellent films that represent the creativity of the Arab world today.”

The jury for the Muhr Awards is made up of Arab film luminaries such as Egyptian actress Leila Eloui (I love Cinema, 2004, The Woman from Cairo, 1992), Moroccan directors Ismael Ferroukhi (Le Grand Voyage, 2004) and Mohamed Asli (Casablanca, Angels Don’t Fly, 2004), Tunisian director/producer Ridha Behi (The Magic Box, 2002), and Lebanese director Mohammed Soueid (Civil War, 2002).

International members are Barry Avrich, director, marketing expert and director of the Toronto International Film Festival and the International Emmy Awards; Kai Nordberg, the Finnish Director/producer; Jafar Panahi, the Iranian director of the award-winning films The White Balloon, The Circle, and The Mirror; Sheila Johnston, who has published extensively on cinema and lectures at the British Film Institute and Open University; and Kim Dong-Ho, Director of the Pusan International Film Market. 

The cash prizes for feature films are US$ 50,000 for first prize, US$ 40,000 for second prize and US$ 30,000 for third prize. The Arab Shorts section cash prizes range from US$ 40,000 for first prize, US$ 30,000 for second prize and US$ 20,000 for third prize winners. Finally, winning documentaries will be awarded cash prizes of US$ 30,000 for first prize, US$ 20,000 for second prize and US$ 10,000 for third prize. In all, over AED 1 million (US$ 325,000) will be awarded.

From the submissions to the Arab Film Competition, the jury will select films by UAE nationals for the ‘UAE Film Awards’; the first three prizes for Best Scriptwriting will be awarded AED 50,000 and a prize of AED 50,000 will be given away for Best UAE Film.

The Dubai International Film Festival’s third run will extend from 10 to 17 December, 2006.

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