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Batata, Night, Murdoch scoop top DFC prizes

Lebanese feature documentary Batata, contemporary Tunisian drama A Full Moon Night and Jordanian producer Rula Nasser’s Me, Myself And Murdoch won the top three prizes of $25,000 each at the close of DIFF’s co-production market Dubai Film Connection.

Directed by Yahya Alabdallah, Me, Myself And Murdoch is about a Palestinian man who wakes from a coma speaking only Hebrew. Batata, to be directed by Lebanon’s Noura Kevorkian and produced by Canada’s Paul Scherzer, is about Syrian agricultural workers in Lebanon. Fares Naanaa’s A Full Moon Night, produced by Habib Attia, is about a couple whose marriage disintegrates after the death of their daughter.

Meanwhile, The Film Clinic/DIFF Debut Feature Award went to Sabah Haider’s Beirut Solo, about a pair of star-crossed immigrant lovers in the Lebanese capital. Canadian Couzin Films and French The Film Link have boarded the picture lead produced by Pierre Sarraf of né.a Beyrouth.

In other awards, Farid Bentoumi’s You Are Algeria, exploring issues of immigrant identity through the tale of an Algerian ski-ing champion, won Arte’s $6,500 international prize. The feature is lead produced by Paris-based Velvet Film.

The International Organisation of La Francophonie Award, also worth $6,500, went to Egyptian Mohamed Hammad’s revolution-set tale Kilo 56, produced by Misr International Films.

This year saw the launch of a new prize, the $10,000 Front Row/KNCC Award, presented by pan-Arab distributor Front Row and exhibitor Kuwait National Cinema Corporation. Raed Andoni’s Ghost Hunting, a hybrid work exploring the impact of Israeli occupation on Palestinians, won the first edition of the prize.

In other DFC news, Williams announced that the DFC was partnering with Cannes Producers Network to send ten Arab producers to the meeting next May.

“Some 31 features have been completed over the past six years, another 13 are in production and eight films are in DIFF’s official selection this year… you can see from the results the DFC really does have an impact,” commented DFC and Film Forum director Jane Williams ahead of announcing the winners.

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