The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) and luxury Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen have announced that Cate Blanchett will head the jury for the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Award at this year’s edition of the festival.

The winning feature film project will receive a cash prize of $100,000 towards the making of the film. A shortlist of four projects has been selected from among hundreds of submissions from filmmakers in the Gulf region (United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain).

The four shortlisted projects are Nothing Doing In Baghdad, from UAE/Iraqi filmmaker Maysoon Pachachi; The Sleeping Tree, from Bahrain’s Mohammed Rashed Buali; Girls In The Know, from Abdullah Al Kaabi (UAE), and From A To B by Ali F. Mostafa (UAE).

Joining Blanchett on the jury are IWC Schaffhausen CEO Georges Kern, DIFF chairman Abdulhamid Juma, DIFF artistic director Masoud Amralla Al Ali and Olivier Père, general director of Paris-based Arte France Cinema.

Kern said: “Our experiences with the region’s leading film festivals in the last few years convinced us that the talent and stories from the Gulf deserves an international stage. We believe in the proliferation of new voices, and we are delighted to contribute to the Arab storytelling by this Filmmaker Award.” 

The winner will be announced during the 9th edition of DIFF (Dec 9-16) at a gala event held at The One and Only, Royal Mirage.