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Festival About DIFF Policies Connect
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Thu Nov 7, 2013
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The Swiss luxury watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen and the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) today announced that IWC Friend of the Brand and Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett will head the IWC Filmmakers Award jury for the second year. IWC and the DIFF also announced the shortlisted projects in the line-up for the USD 100,000 prize for the second IWC Filmmaker Award taking place on 7 December 2013 during the 10th edition of DIFF. The shortlisted projects are: Faiza Ambah’s “A Reverence for Spiders”, Hussain Alriffaei’s “Siege” written by Bahraini author Ameen Saleh, Waleed Al Shehhi’s “Dolphins” written by UAE author Ahmed Salmeen, and Zeyad Alhusaini’s “How I Got There.”

The four projects in development will be assessed by a jury of international film industry experts, headed by Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett, who will consider the scripts and the overall potential of the projects. Speaking of the link between storytelling and IWC, Georges Kern, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen, says: “Storytelling is timeless, and stories are our most valuable legacy. With the IWC Filmmaker Award, we recognize storytellers and prize the most exciting voices in Gulf cinema, which is still an untapped resource for rich and unique stories. Cinema upholds and nourishes the fertile legacy of the region’s culture and allows audiences from around the world to delve into a world different from their own. It is an honour to embark on our second year with the award and contribute to local storytelling.” Maysoon Pachachi, who won the IWC Filmmaker Award 2012 for “Nothing Doing in Baghdad”, last year received the prize from IWC Friend of the Brand and head of the jury, Cate Blanchett, during the Filmmakers Dinner.

DIFF Chairman, Abdulhamid Juma, said: “This year we received three times as many entries for the award as in 2012, which speaks for the numerous filmmakers in the region who are ready to take on a feature project and have already done considerable work in terms of putting together a team and financing. The award recognizes their vision and gives them a boost with seed money that will attract further investment. We look forward to congratulating the winning director and welcoming him or her back to DIFF with the finished project in future editions.”

The winner of the award will be announced during the 2013 festival at a gala dinner which is scheduled to take place on 7 December 2013.


Journalist-turned-filmmaker Faiza Ambah’s first feature length film “A Reverence for Spiders” tackles father-daughter relations through the prism of religion and tradition. Omar, a father of two daughters, is so desperate for a son that he moves his family to America, where his wife can undergo fertility treatment. In a strange land, he begins to gain a better understanding of, and a deeper appreciation for, his daughters just when a tragic event threatens to separate them for good.

Hussain Alriffaei’s feature-length directorial debut “Siege”, written by established Bahraini author Ameen Saleh, is a nail-biting drama that sees a young girl alone in a house as sinister events unfold in the streets outside. Left to her own devices, she must decide where to run and whom to trust, relying only on her own wits as society deteriorates around her.

Experienced Kuwaiti director Zeyad Alhusain’s “How I Got There” is a dark story of a downward spiral that leads to the criminal underbelly of the Gulf. An eye-opening journey into a rarely explored side of Kuwaiti society, the film follows aimless Salim, who begins his criminal career by dabbling in alcohol sales and ends up fighting for his life against a gun-running mafia whose reach extends throughout the region.

Written by author and poet Ahmed Salmeen and directed by award-winning Emirati Waleed Al Shehhi, “Dolphins” revolves around Fadel, an ambulance driver, who is divorced and has one son, Saud, who lives with his mother Kawthar. Saud lives in a state of uncertainty due to the separation of his parents, which leads him and his friend Hilal on an unusual adventure with an extraordinary outcome.
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