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DIFF Archive

Explore DIFF’s Archive

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 2010

(1927 – 2014)

The Dubai International Film Festival was proud to honour one of the Arab world’s most prolific and popular actresses and singers, Sabah, with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sabah has starred in nearly 100 movies, including several timeless comedies and musicals, as well as melodramas and romantic features, acted in 20 stage plays, released 50 albums and amassed more than 3,500 songs in her repertoire. Renowned for her endearing performances, soaring voice and sparkling personality, Sabah – or ‘Al Shahroura’ (The Singing Bird) as she is known to her fans – continues to act and sing today, including a recent appearance in the pan-Arab talent show ‘Star Academy’.

Sabah’s work was a bridge between two important centres in the Arab world: Egypt and Lebanon. Although a Lebanese national, the majority of her films were co-produced with or focused on Egypt. At the age of 15, her career launched with a debut in the Egyptian film ‘Bint Al-Charq’ (Daughter of the East, 1946).

Some of her most well-received films include 1956’s ‘How Can I Forget You?’ (Izhay Ansak), 1959’s ‘The Street Of Love’ (Sharia el Hub) (1959), 1962’s ‘Al Layaly Al Dafiaa’ and 1980’s ‘Layla Baka Fiha El Kamar’. Over the years, she has shared the screen with some of the biggest names in Arab cinema, including Abdulhalim Hafiz, Fareed Al Atrash, Emad Hamdi, and Hussain Riyad.

The singer-actress has also worked in international markets, including appearances on French television and a duet with French star Enrico Macias.

Souleymane Cisse

The Dubai International Film Festival wasdelighted to honour Souleymane Cissé with the presentation of one of its 2010 Lifetime Achievement Awards.

A filmmaker of rare integrity and resolution, committed to representing the lives of his countrymen with integrity and honesty, Cissé’s commitment to his art has won him critical praise worldwide, as well as plentiful accolades and honours from institutions including the Cannes Film Festival – Cissé being the first African to win a major prize at the event.

In a career stretching back over 40 years, and one that is indubitably rooted in his home country of Mali, Cissé has consistently addressed the lives of ordinary people, caught up in the situations that viewers everywhere can relate to. Even with specific cultural forces at play, with local political and social forces driving narrative situations and circumstances, the humanity at the heart of Cissé’s cinema is what we connect with at a fundamental level.

This has been one of Cissé’s goals from early in his career, to make films that provide an insight into contemporary African life and the complex structures of culture, tradition, love, religion and politics that shape it. The awards and global recognition he has earned over the decades is testament to his massive achievements in realizing this goal, with artistic integrity and visual mastery. He has been rewarded not only by the deep appreciation of his viewers, but also institutions including the Malian Chevalier du Mérit National for ‘Yeelen’ (1987), which was also awarded the Jury Prize at Cannes in the same year. Other major prizes include the Yenenga’s Talon prize at FESPACO for both ‘Baara’ (1978) and ‘Finye’ (1982)

In 1991 Cissé established the N’Fa Cissé, an award which is given annually in Mali for artistic creation. He is president of UCECAO, the Union of Creators and Entrepreneurs of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts of Western Africa and yet, where possible, Cissé stills prefers a simple, unfussy approach to his storytelling, pressing local people and familiar, everyday locations into service of his narratives, a technique that gives his films added authenticity and vitality.

Sean Penn

The Dubai International Film Festival was delighted to be honoring two-time Academy Award winner Sean Penn as one of our three recipients of a prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

Actor, director, journalist, humanitarian - Sean Penn is the epitome of the Hollywood superstar on every level. An actor of rare skill and artistry, he has been evolving constantly since his scorching early performances, roles in which the young Penn established himself as an actor possessed of astonishing versatility and talent. Following such disparate characters as the grimly-obsessed military cadet of 1981’s ‘Taps’ to the wise-cracking surfer-dude Jeff Spicoli in ‘Fast Times At Ridgemont High’ in 1982, Penn’s CV is populated with a succession of rich, complex characters, each radiating that compelling charisma that has branded him a force to be reckoned with.

And as a director, his feature films have garnered critical acclaim, as they range from the thought-provoking tribute to the victims of 9/11 in the US segment of ‘Eleven Minutes, Nine Seconds, One Image: September 11’ to the gritty drama of ‘The Pledge’.

There are few modern-day actors who have so repeatedly attracted the scrutiny of film award nominations committees over the years. Over a career laden with accolades, prizes and acclaim from around the world, Penn has been nominated five times for the Academy Awards, including Best Actor for ‘Dead Man Walking,’ ‘Sweet and Lowdown,’ and ‘I Am Sam’. His first Oscar win was in 2003 for ‘Mystic River’ and his second as Best Actor in 2009 for ‘Milk’.

At DIFF , we are delighted to offer two very different aspects of Penn’s artistry in action. Woody Allen’s ‘Sweet & Lowdown’ sees him in one of the more heartwarming, joyful roles of his career, in the unlikely guide of fictional 30’s jazz hepcat Emmet Ray, superficially, a rather unlikeable piece of work – but in actuality, as finely-layered, complex and beguiling a creation as ever he portrayed. Meanwhile ‘Into The Wild’, represents Penn’s achievements as a director, his skill and empathy paramount here too in the rendering of a heartbreaking tale of an idealistic, conflicted young man adrift in life.

In yet another string to his bow, Penn has distinguished himself as a serious international journalist, reporting for publications including Time, Interview, Rolling Stone and The Nation.

Penn’s humanitarian work has found him in New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and more recently in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. In January 2010, Penn founded the J/P Haitian Relief Organization which saves lives and brings sustainable programs to the Haitian people quickly and effectively. His organization is currently serving as UN IOM-designated Camp Management for the largest IDP camp in Port-au-Prince and established the first emergency re-location in the country. In July 2010 Penn was knighted by Haitian President Rene Preval.
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