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DIFFPress Releases 2016DIFF Wraps its 13th Edition as Eight Days of Spectacular Cinematic Celebration Comes to an End
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DIFF Wraps its 13th Edition as Eight Days of Spectacular Cinematic Celebration Comes to an End
Wed Dec 14, 2016
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Community came together to share in stories from around the world, forge connections and shine a spotlight on the regional film industry

Final day sees prestigious Muhr Awards announced

Dubai, 14 December 2016: After eight enthralling days in celebration of all things cinema, the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has closed its curtains on a 13th edition which welcomed internationally acclaimed filmmakers, actors, celebrities and festivalgoers from across the globe and continued to raise the profile of the regional film industry on an international stage. Running from December 7th, the region’s leading film festival hosted a diverse selection of galas, special presentations, live performances, red carpet events and informative industry sessions making the Festival’s 13th year was an unforgettable experience for all.

Abdulhamid Juma, Dubai International Film Festival Chairman, commented on the Festival: “Winning the hearts and imaginations of audiences from around the world, this year’s vast selection of films have united the community and furthered an understanding of diverse cultures and countries over the past eight days. It is an honour to have supported such talented, enthusiastic and committed filmmakers who each tell stories in their own unique way to influence audiences from all walks of life. This is the true power of cinema and one of the most rewarding elements of the Festival.”

Bringing this year’s Festival to a spectacular crescendo, DIFF’s Closing Night Gala screened one of 2016’s most highly anticipated releases, ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, directed by Gareth Edwards and starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, with Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker. The gripping story follows a group of ordinary people united to embark on an epic adventure with the hope of stealing the plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction, the legendary Death Star. The unlikely heroes inspire audiences as they soon find they are capable of achieving extraordinary things which are way beyond their first expectations.

Bringing the magic from the screen to the red carpet, the final night of the Festival included a Star Wars takeover with beloved and infamous characters from the franchise on the red carpet. Audiences also turned out in their best Star Wars costumes to make the night a truly immersive one.

Shivani Pandya, Managing Director, DIFF, commented: “This year has been another spectacular edition of the Dubai International Film Festival, filled with incredible screenings and red carpet galas, an array of special presentations, and insightful panel sessions with some of the most prolific talents in the industry today. But the Festival is about so much more than that. It is about shining a spotlight on Arab filmmakers to help the regional film industry grow ever more diverse. Throughout the Festival, homegrown filmmakers are given invaluable opportunities to gain international exposure for their unique projects and to meet with and learn from some of the best in the industry. Supporting this development is really at the heart of DIFF and as we close our 13th year I am proud to say we always remain true to this cause.”

His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum presented the heavily contested Muhr Award winners at a ceremony that took place in the Madinat Theatre at Madinat Jumeirah. A diverse selection of deserving projects received the prestigious award presented by jury heads renowned Egyptian filmmaker Yousry Nasrallah, acclaimed artist, screenwriter and director Ulrike Ottinger and famed Ukranian documentary filmmaker Sergiy Loznytsya. Winning the Best Director in the Muhr Emirati category was Yaser Alneyadi for his thrilling film ‘Shrimp’, winner of the Best Emirati Feature went to ‘Only Men go to the Grave’ directed by Abdulla Al Kaabi, whilst ‘Mamsous’ directed by Shatha Masoud was named Best Muhr Emirati Short. In the Muhr Shorts category, Special Jury Prize went to Mounia Akl for ‘Submarine’ and the Best Muhr Short went to gifted director Mehdi M. Barsaoui for ‘We Are Just Fine Like This’. In the Muhr Gulf Short category, Best Muhr Gulf Short went to the deserving Bader Alhomoud for ‘The Bliss of Being No One’, and Mohammed Alholayyil was awarded the Special Jury Prize for his compelling film ‘300KM’.

The Muhr Feature category saw Eliane Raheb awarded the Special Jury Prize for her feature ‘Those Who Remain’, while Maher Abi Samra was presented with the Best Muhr Non-Fiction Feature prize for ‘A Maid for Each’, and winner of the Best Muhr Fiction Feature was handed to Hussein Hassan for ‘The Dark Wind’. Best Director was presented to Mohammed Hammad for his outstanding film ‘Withered Green’, while Julia Kassar took home Best Actress for her work in ‘Tramontane’ and Ali Sobhi took home Best Actor for ‘Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim’.

Since the inception of the Muhr Awards in 2006, the nurturing programme has provided invaluable financial and in-production support to foster artistic excellence from within the Arab world and beyond, with many filmmakers going on to become globally recognized names.

Masoud Amralla Al Ali, DIFF Artistic Director, said: “Each year the competition is getting tougher and tougher as filmmakers are pushing their limits in search of unique angles to deliver contemporary narratives. Standards were extremely high this year with a stellar selection of high quality work - the jury certainly had its work cut out in selecting the 2016 Muhr winners. On behalf of DIFF, I would like to congratulate the worthy winners whose innovative perspectives enriched, educated and entertained audiences through the medium of film. DIFF is proud to support regional talent in their journeys to success and my biggest thanks go to all of the gifted filmmakers who were involved in the Festival for sharing their outstanding projects. I wish all of them the very best for the future and look forward to no doubt seeing them go on to gain international acclaim.”

Committed to fostering the growth of the local and international film industry, DIFF also distributed a range of awards to a selection of talented individuals in recognition of their exceptional efforts in supporting the Festival. Viraj Asher from Manipal University was presented with the Young Journalist Award for his tireless work reporting from the Festival with the support of the region’s leading media outlet, Gulf News. The Emirates NBD People’s Choice Award, presented by Lubna Qassim, Group Chief General Consel and Company Secretary, was awarded to Michel Boujenah for his outstanding film ‘Heartstrings’, as judged by DIFF’s diverse audiences, and Darin Sallam stole the spotlight by winning the Ministry of Interior Award, along with the prize of USD 100,000, for ‘Best Societal Screenplay’, and was presented the award by Major Dana Humaid, Director - Project Management and Shared Services Office and Acting Director - Child Protection Center.

The dates for next year’s Festival, which will mark DIFF’s landmark 14th edition, have been confirmed as 6th – 13th December. The Festival will take place at Madinat Jumeriah, the home of DIFF.

Since being established in 2004, DIFF has grown to become an influential platform for the region’s most talented artists to showcase their films. As part of this, the Dubai Film Market was conceived to provide production and post-production funding and support for budding directors in the region.
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