Kuwaiti filmmaker Abdullah Boushahri won the $100,000 IWC Filmmaker Award for his feature project The Water at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) on Thursday night. 

Boushahri received with award from actress Emily Blunt, who sat on the jury along with IWC Schaffhausen CEO Georges Kern, DIFF chairman Abdulhamid Juma, DIFF artistic director Masoud Amralla Al Ali, director Marc Forster, IWC Schaffhausen brand director Karoline Huber and Screen International’s Mark Adams.

Set during a drought in the city of Kuwait in the early 20th century, The Water revolves around a young man with a melodious voice, who is in love with a beautiful girl from a lower-caste family. The two lovers face a multitude of social obstacles as the city’s residents turn to desperate measures to obtain water.

Boushahri previously produced the feature-length film Losing Ahmad, which made its world premiere at DIFF in 2006 and won best documentary in the Gulf at the Emirates Film Competition 2007.

Also shortlisted for the IWC award were Emirati filmmaker Saeed Salmeen Al-Murry for his project Going To Heaven and Saudi filmmaker and actress Ahd Kamel for Sandfish, an adaptation of Maha Gargash’s novel.

“For a third successive year, we have received excellent submissions from the region and are as always greatly impressed with the way GCC filmmakers tell their stories,” said Kern.

“It gives us great pleasure and honour to be able to contribute towards supporting local talent and developing creativity, thus boosting the quality of filmmaking in the region as a whole.”

Emily Blunt said: “The region is a treasure chest of stories and thus the submissions were brilliant. I am proud to participate with such a noble initiative that supports the ambitions and aspirations of the region’s filmmakers. It was a real task picking out the winner from the entries received which each had the ability to touch the hearts and minds of audiences the world over.”