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Heralded by Variety magazine as one of the world’s “50 unmissable film festivals“, DIFF has cemented its reputation as the ultimate destination to discover films from the Arab world and beyond. The archive gives you access to the films, juries, galleries, press releases and more from the first edition in 2004 through to the current edition.

Lifetime Achievement Awards 2015

The 12th edition of DIFF presented four prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards, recognising these individuals’ incredible contributions to cinema.

Catherine Deneuve


Catherine Deneuve, the grande dame of French cinema, was honoured and presented with DIFF’s first prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. The accolade recognises Deneuve’s illustrious career which spans almost 60 years and includes more than 120 films.

Deneuve made her silver screen debut in 1957 aged just 13 and went on to make a name for herself for her impressive portrayal of enigmatic female leads. Her eminent career has seen her nominated for an astonishing 31 César awards including winning Best Actress for Le Dernier Métro (1980), a romantic drama set in 1940s France, and Indochine (1992), Regis Wargnier's epic about French Indochina for which she also received a Best Actress in a Leading Role nomination at the Academy Awards. For one of her best-known roles, as the lead in Belle du Jour (1967), she was also nominated as Best Actress at the BAFTA Film Awards.

Naseeruddin Shah


The second award was presented to the legendary actor Naseeruddin Shah with its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. Shah has appeared in over 200 films in a remarkable and diverse career spanning 40 years.

After studying in the National Drama School, Delhi, Naseeruddin Shah debuted in the film ‘Nishant’ (1975). Shah became a prominent figure in the ‘Parallel Cinema’ movement - a reaction to the mainstream Bollywood fair, the films under the umbrella of ‘Parellel’ championed realism, naturalism and serious content that reflected the sociopolitical climate of the times. Shah’s prominence in the ‘arthouse cinema’ of India earned him critical acclaim for films like ‘Sparsh’, ‘Paar’, ‘Aakrosh’ and ‘Chakra’ and commercial success followed, with roles in some of the biggest films in Indian cinema to his name.

In a diverse career that has straddled Bollywood and Hollywood, in which he has played the most downtrodden members of Indian society in ‘Paar’, a family patriarch in ‘Monsoon Wedding’ to ‘Captain Nemo’ in the blockbuster ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentleman’. As an acknowledgement of his achievements, the legendary actor has over 20 nominations and 6 wins at national awards beginning in 197. He is also a winner of the coveted Best Actor Award at Venice Film Festival, which he earned for his performance in 1984’s ‘Paar’.

A winner of both the Padma Shri and Padma Bhusran awards, in 1987 and 2003 respectively, for contributions to Indian cinema, his three wins at the National Film Awards over a 25 year period signifies the enduring quality of Naseeruddin Shah.

Nasseruddin Shah's latest film 'Waiting', a poignant drama also starring Kalki Koechlin and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Anu Menon had its world premiere at the DIFF.

Ezzat Al Alayli


The third Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to multi-award winning Egyptian actor Ezzat Al Alayli. With more than 100 diverse and impactful films to his name, the 81-year-old will be recognised for his contribution to film and the cultural landscape across the region.

An alumnus of the Higher Institute for Dramatic Arts, Al Alayli’s acting began earning fame with his leading role in the film ‘Ressalah min Emraa Maghoula (Letter from an Unknown Woman), from the master of realism, Salah Abouseif, in 1963. Since then he has cultivated a highly distinguished and impressive career thanks to a unique acting style. His catalogue of work with acclaimed director Youssef Chahine lead to some of his most renowned roles such as Abd El-Hadi in ‘al-Ard’ (The Land) and Shaker in ‘Iskanderija... lih?’ (Alexandria…Why?).

Al Alayli’s artistic presence has reached beyond his native Egypt and across the region, with starring roles in ‘Tabûnat Al-Sayyid Fabre’ (The Mill of M. Fabre) by respected Algerian filmmaker Ahmad Rashedy, Iraqi film ‘Al Qadissiya’ (The Battle of Al Qadissiya) by from director Salah Abou Seif and ‘Beirut Ya Beirut’ by distinguished Lebanese filmmaker Maroun Baghdadi. His career has seen him recognised with an impressive slate of awards, including the prestigious Honorary Shield at the ART Film Festival in 2009. He has been named Best Actor in more than 100 films across the Arab world.

Sami Bouajila


Sami Bouajila, the award-winning French-Tunisian actor, was also a recipient of this year’s prestigious Arab Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his incredible contributions to cinema. Bouajila is an internationally acclaimed actor whose impressive filmography spans three decades and boasts an incredible forty titles.

Sami Bouajila is renowned for his eclectic range of starring roles and is best known for his award-winning performances in ‘Les Temoins’ for which he won the Cesar Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2008, and ‘Indigenes’ where he received the award for Best Male Interpretation at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. His award-winning legacy dates back to 2000 when he was named Best Young Actor for ‘Drole de Felix’ at Festival du film romantique de Cabourg. The 49 year-old has come a long way since his first acting role, working his way into the leading role for the 2011 French crime-drama ‘’Omar Killed Me’, where he plays a falsely accused gardener convicted of murdering his elderly employer.
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