Leyla Bouzid’s As I Open My Eyes won best fiction film in the Muhr Feature competition at this year’s Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), while Mahmood Soliman’s We Have Never Been Kids scooped best non-fiction film and best director.
Bouzid’s Tunis-set drama tells the story of a young woman singing in a political rock band in the run-up to the Tunisian revolution. Soliman’s documentary is about an Egyptian woman trying to look after her four children around the time of her divorce.
Salem Brahimi’s Let Them Come, about a family affected by a rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism in 1990s Algeria, scooped the Special Jury Prize in the Muhr Feature competition.
Best actress went to Menna Shalabi for her performance in Egyptian filmmaker Hala Khalil’s Nawara, while best actor went to Lotfi Abdelli for Tunisian director Fares Naanaa’s Borders Of Heaven.
“We have been so impressed with the female directors this festival has chosen to showcase,” said jury president Deepa Mehta at the closing ceremony on Wednesday afternoon. “We would like to salute all the filmmakers that dare to make a difference and the institutions that dare to showcase their work, which is DIFF.”
The Muhr Emirati category was also strong this year, with seven shorts and four features in competition. Best Emirati feature went to Saeed Salmeen for Going To Heaven, while Nasser Aldhaheri took best director for A Tale Of Water, Palm Trees And Family.
Hany Abu-Assad’s The Idol won the People’s Choice Award, while Abdullah Hassan Ahmad took home the $100,000 Ministry of Interior Award for Best Societal Screenplay.
DIFF wrapped with a red carpet gala screening of Adam McKay’s The Big Short. The festival also confirmed that next year’s edition will run December 7-14, 2015.
Muhr Feature category:
Best Muhr Fiction Feature – As I Open My Eyes, Leyla Bouzid
Best Muhr Non-Fiction Feature – We Have Never Been Kids, dir: Mahmood Soliman
Special Jury Prize – Salem Brahimi, dir: Let Them Come
Best Director – Mahmood Soliman, We Have Never Been Kids
Best Actor – Lotfi Abdelli, Borders Of Heaven
Best Actress – Menna Shalabi, Nawara
Muhr Emirati category:
Best Emirati Feature – Going To Heaven, dir: Saeed Salmeen
Best Director – Nasser Aldhaheri, A Tale Of Water, Palm Trees And Family
Best Muhr Emirati Short – Omnia, dir: Amna Al Nowais
Muhr Shorts category:
Best Muhr Short – Ave Maria, dir: Basil Khalil
Special Jury Prize – Mariam, dir: Faiza Ambah
Muhr Gulf Shorts category:
Best Muhr Gulf Short – The Boss, dir: Rizgar Husen
Special Jury Prize – Peddiers, dir: Hind Al Fahhad