Four project by Gulf directors nominated for $100,000 prize.

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has announced that actress Cate Blanchett will head the IWC Filmmakers Award jury for the second year.

DIFF also revealed the shortlisted projects in the line-up for the $100,000 prize, which will be announced on Dec 7 during the 10th edition of DIFF (Dec 6-14).

The shortlisted projects are:

  • A Reverence for Spiders, Faiza Ambah
  • Seige, Hussain Alriffaei, written by Bahraini author Ameen Saleh
  • Dolphins, Waleed Al Shehhi, written by UAE author Ahmed Salmeen
  • How I Got There, Zeyad Alhusaini.

The four projects in development will be assessed by a jury of international film industry experts, headed by Blanchett, who will consider the scripts and the overall potential of the projects.

DIFF chairman, Abdulhamid Juma, said: “This year we received three times as many entries for the award as in 2012, which speaks for the numerous filmmakers in the region who are ready to take on a feature project and have already done considerable work in terms of putting together a team and financing.

“The award recognizes their vision and gives them a boost with seed money that will attract further investment.”

The winner of the award will be announced during the 2013 festival at a gala dinner which is scheduled to take place on Dec 7.


Journalist-turned-filmmaker Faiza Ambah’s first feature length film A Reverence for Spiders tackles father-daughter relations through the prism of religion and tradition.

Omar, a father of two daughters, is so desperate for a son that he moves his family to America, where his wife can undergo fertility treatment. In a strange land, he begins to gain a better understanding of, and a deeper appreciation for, his daughters just when a tragic event threatens to separate them for good.

Hussain Alriffaei’s feature-length directorial debut Siege, written by established Bahraini author Ameen Saleh, is a drama that sees a young girl alone in a house as sinister events unfold in the streets outside.

Left to her own devices, she must decide where to run and whom to trust, relying only on her own wits as society deteriorates around her.

Kuwaiti director Zeyad Alhusain’s How I Got There is a dark story of a downward spiral that leads to the criminal underbelly of the Gulf.

A journey into a rarely explored side of Kuwaiti society, the film follows aimless Salim, who begins his criminal career by dabbling in alcohol sales and ends up fighting for his life against a gun-running mafia whose reach extends throughout the region.

Written by author and poet Ahmed Salmeen and directed by Emirati Waleed Al Shehhi, Dolphins revolves around Fadel, an ambulance driver, who is divorced and has one son, Saud, who lives with his mother Kawthar.

Saud lives in a state of uncertainty due to the separation of his parents, which leads him and his friend Hilal on an unusual adventure with an extraordinary outcome.