Emirati filmmaker Saeed Salmeen Al Murry has won the inaugural Ministry of Interior Award for Best Societal Screenplay at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) for his project Going To Heaven.

The $100,000 award is for a screenplay that addresses issues regarding child welfare.

Going To Heaven tells the story of a 10-year-old boy in Abu Dhabi who is starved of love at home and sets off on a journey with a friend to find his grandmother in Fujairah.

A graduate of the New York Film Academy in Abu Dhabi, Al Murry has directed acclaimed films including short Bint Mariam and feature Sundress, which screened at several international film festivals and was also released in the UAE. 

“The choice to establish this award confirms the power of film, its reach, scope and effectiveness at communicating with the wider society,” said DIFF artistic director Masoud Amralla Al Ali.

“Through this award, filmmakers will be recognised for their valuable efforts to highlight societal issues through their films, which can only stand to benefit the industry and community.”

Lt. Col. Faisal Al Shimmari, vice president of the Ministry of Interior’s Cinema Awards committee, said: “The Ministry of Interior believes cinema is a powerful platform to communicate and connect with the community in a direct and meaningful way.

“By establishing this award we aim to partner with the cinema industry to raise public awareness and address issues related to society’s safety and security in a prevention manner, as we endeavor to encourage action that will further improve people’s safety and community life in general”.