Mumbai: The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) closed with a stunning award ceremony to recognize the best films in the festival and in the AsiaAfrica and Arab Muhr Competitions.
The Muhr Awards was expanded this year to include a new AsiaAfrica segment, which embraces films from emerging markets. Some of the entries were submitted from Afghanistan, Turkey, Cameroon and Kazakhstan. The Muhr Awards for Excellence in Arab Cinema was stronger than ever this year, with an increased number of applications from filmmakers all over the Middle East and around the world.
DIFF artistic director Masoud Amralla al Ali said: "This year our jury members were hard at work trying to evaluate the merits of truly excellent films. We are extremely proud of the films that we have screened, and choosing between them was very difficult. However, we are pleased with the results, and hope to see these filmmakers back at DIFF in following years with new projects."
At the beginning of the evening, three awards were presented to Emirati filmmakers: the prize for Best Emirati Talent went to Haydar Mohammed. Best Emirati Female Filmmaker was presented to Nujoom Al Ghanem, and Best Emirati Filmmaker went to Saeed Salmeen Al-Murry.
For the first time, the International Federation of Film Critics, or FIPRESCI, awarded a Best Arab Film prize to one of the films in the Arab Muhr Competition. The prize went to Masquerades by Lyes Salem.
Arab Muhr Competition
· First Prize: La Route Du Nord (The North Road) by Carlos Chahine
· Special Jury Prize: Bint Mariam by Saeed Salmeen Al-Murry
· Second Prize: Sa’et Asary (At Day’s End) by Sherif El Bendary
· First Prize: Thakirat L Sabbar: Hikayat Thalath Qura Falasteenia (Memory Of He Cactus: A Story Of Three Palestinian Villages) by Hanna Musleh
· Special Jury Prize: Samaan Bidiyaa (The One Man Village) by Simon El Habre
· Second Prize: Marina Of The Zabbaleen by Engi Wassef
Best Cinematographer: Luca Coassin for Casanegra
Best Composer: Sylvain Rifflet for Adhen – Dernier Maquis
Best Editor: Nicolas Bancilhon for Adhen – Dernier Maquis
Best Screenplay: Annemarie Jacir for Milh Hadha Al-Bahr (Salt Of This Sea)
Best Actress: Hafsia Herzi for Francaise
Best Actor: Anas Elbaz and Omar Lotfi for Casanegra
· Best Film: Masquerades by Lyes Salem
· Special Jury Prize: Adhen – Dernier Maquis by Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche
Muhr AsiaAfrica Awards
· First Prize: Shao Nian Xue (Young Blood) by Haolun Shu
· Special Jury Prize: Expectations by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
· Second Prize: Kam Sanabanyz (Everything Is Ok) by Akjoltoy Bekbolotov
· First Prize: Mental by Kazuhiro Soda
· Special Jury Prize: Xiao Li Zi (Survival Song) by Guangyi Yu
· Second Prize: Une Affarie De Negres (Black Business) by Osvalde Lewat
Best Cinematorgrapher: Reza Teymouri for Aram Bash Va Ta Haft Beshmar (Be Calm And Count To Seven)
Best Composer: Jorga Mesfin, Vijay Iyer for Teza
Best Editor: Sreekar Prasad for Firaaq
Best Screenplay: Deepa Mehta for Heaven On Earth
Best Actress: Anh Hong for Trang Noi Day Gieng (Moon At The Bottom Of The Well)
Best Actor: Askhat Kuchinchirekov for Tulpan
· Best Film: Treeless Mountain by So Yong Kim
· Special Jury Prize: Kyuka (Vacation) by Hajime Kadoi
The festival had previously announced the results of the second annual Dubai Film Connection (DFC), established to bring Arab and international film professionals together. DFC selected 18 projects from 108 submissions, of which three were awarded a USD 25, 000 Dubai International Film Festival Prize: This is my Picture When I Was Dead, by Mahmoud al Massad (Jordan-Netherlands); Barbershop Trinity by Chadi Zeneddine (Lebanon); and Ouardia Once Had Sons by Djamila Sahraoui (Algeria-Morocco). The three producers of the three projects will attend the prestigious 2009 Cannes Producers Network.
Every Day is a Holiday by Dima El-Hor (Lebanon-France) won the DIFF Desert Door Work in Progress Award, the 6000 Euro International Relations prize from French broadcaster Arte went to Death for Sale by Faouzi Bensaiei (Morocco-France-Belgium); and the new Bahrain Film Production Company Works in Progress Award went to When I Saw You by Annemarie Jacir (Palestine-Jordan). The new Young Journalist Award, instituted in 2008 to stimulate interest in film criticism as a career in the region, went to Melissa Khan of Mahe Manipal University in Dubai.