Qatari director Khalifa Al Muraikhi, Saudi filmmaker Shahad Ameen and Emirati director Layla Kaylif have been shortlisted for the IWC Filmmaker Award at this year’s Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF).

A partnership between DIFF and IWC Schaffhausen, the IWC Filmmaker Award is designed to help Gulf filmmakers get their projects from script to screen. The winner receives a cash prize of $100,000.

Among this year’s shortlisted projects, Sahaab, from Khalifa Al Muraikhi (Threads Beneath The Sands), tells the tale of aspiring falconers preparing to take part in a race.

After premiering her short film Eye & Mermaid at DIFF in 2013, Shahad Ameen returns to the festival with her project Scales, a fantasy feature that follows the story of a pre-adolescent teen faced with fulfilling her destiny as a hunted, yet free, mermaid.

Layla Kaylif’s The Letter Writer is a romantic drama which tells a story of deception and lies as a young boy uses his skills as a professional letter writer for personal gain at the expense of his trusting customers.

Jury members of previous IWC Filmmaker Awards have included Emily Blunt, Marc Forster and Cate Blanchett.

At last year’s DIFF, Blunt presented the award to Abdullah Boushahri (pictured) for his project The Water. Previous winner Waleed Al Shehhi, who received his IWC Filmmaker Award for Dolphins in 2013, premiered the film at last year’s edition of the festival.

DIFF also recently announced the first titles for its Cinema of The World programme, which includes Cannes Palme d’Or winner Dheepan, Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s The Assassin, Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth, Matt Brown’s The Man Who Knew Infinity, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Cemetery Of Splendour and Brillante Mendoza’s Trap.

This year’s DIFF takes place December 9-16.