Titles include the world premiere of thriller I’m Dead and the new feature from Egyptian director Daoud Abdel Sayed.

I'm Dead

The Dubai International Film Festival (Dec 10-17) has unveiled the competition line-up for the Muhr Feature Awards.

The awards, first launched in 2006, aims to recognise artistic excellence from within the Arab world.

Titles include:

  • Dolphins, Waleed Al Shehhi
  • I’m Dead, Yacine Mohamed Benelhadj
  • I am Nujoom, Aged 10 and Divorced, Khadija Al-Salami
  • The Sea is Behind, Hicham Lasri
  • In This Land Lay Graves of Mine, Reine Mitri
  • A Letter to the King, Hisham Zaman
  • The Narrow Frame of Midnight, Tala Hadid
  • The Council,Yahya Alabdallah
  • Out of the Ordinary, Daoud Abdel Sayed

Dolphins is directed by Waleed Al Shehhi, who secured funding from DIFF’s post-production fund Enjaaz in cooperation with Watani and Filmi  before going on to win the IWC Filmmaker Award during the 2013 edition of the Festival.

In its world premiere, Dolphins follows the intertwined stories of three people within a 24 hour period.  Set in his home emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, the film features the character Saud, an only child who struggles to come to terms with his parents’ separation.  

The Enjaaz-supported I’m Dead is another world premiere. Directed by Algerian filmmaker Yacine Mohamed Benelhadj, the thriller centres on thief Omar who discovers the owner of a car he has stolen is a killer.

Another world premiere, I am Nujoom, Aged 10 and Divorced is Khadija Al-Salami’s first feature and a portrayal of the life of a Yemeni child-bride, which was also made with the support of Enjaaz.

Hicham Lasri’s The Sea is Behind centres on Tarik, a Moroccon entertainer or H’Dya who dresses like a woman to entertain the crowds.

The drama explores violence, intolerance and conservatism in Arab societies. The film also found the funding it needed for completion via the Enjaaz post-production fund and will enjoy its world premiere to DIFF audiences.

Reine Mitri’s documentary, In This Land Lay Graves of Mine, centres on national identity and the meaning of territory in Lebanon. It was also supported by Enjaaz.

Hisham Zaman’s A Letter to the King tells the tales of five refugees, told by 83-year-old Mirza, who has bound their stories into one letter. The film gained initial funding from Enjaaz.

Tala Hadid’s The Narrow Frame of Midnight, follows the journey of orphan Aicha, found alone in the central Moroccan forests and journeys to Istanbul, across the plains of Kurdistan and further.

Yahya Alabdallah’s The Council will receive itsworld premiere. The Enjaaz-supported documentary is set in a Palestinian refugee school where 10-year-old Abed and 13-year-old Omar form a student council.

Egyptian director Daoud Abdel Sayed returns to DIFF with his latest feature Out of the Ordinary. Last year, three films by the director were chosen among DIFF’s list of the 100 Most Important Arab Films, namely; Kit Kat (1991), Land of Fear (1999), and Messages from the Sea (2010).

The new film centres on Yehia, who takes a vaction after an unsuccessful scientific investigation into the paranormal. He settles in a seaside guest house inhabited by a clan of quirky characters and comes to believe he has discovered the magic he has sought.

The winners will be announced during DIFF at an event on Dec 16.