Palestinian filmmaker Annemarie Jacir’s Nazareth-set dark comedy Wajib scooped the top prize at DIFF’s co-financing event the Dubai Film Connection on Sunday.
The project, following a divorced father as he spends the day with his estranged son delivering wedding invitations for his daughter, won DIFF’s $25,000 prize.
Jacir’s long-time producer Ossama Bawardi at their joint company Philistine Films is producing.
The DFC award came hot on the heels of another two awards for the project. Earlier in the week, the picture also received the Asian Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) film grant as well as a development award from the Tribeca Film Institute.
Jacir previously participated at the DFC with When I Saw You, which was Palestine’s foreign-language Oscar entry and won best Asian film in Berlin and best Arab film in Abu Dhabi
The DIFF prize jury consisted of Loic Magneron, founding chief of Paris-based sales company Wide Management, the Toronto International Film Festival’s executive director Michele Maheux and VOX Cinemas Toni El Massih.
Another six prizes were handed out at Sunday evening’s ceremony. The second biggest cash prize, the $15,000 Fortress Film Clinic Award, went to Egyptian film-maker Hala Lotfy’s gritty social drama The Bridge set against the backdrop of the River Nile.
In other awards, Lebanese film-maker Bassem Breish’s The Maiden’s Pond won the $10,000 ART Award, meted out by regional broadcaster Arab Radio and Television; Papion on Top of the Water Tank, to be directed by Yahya Alabdallah and produced by Rula Nasser, clinched the $10,000 Cinescape/Front Row Award and Iraqi director Koutaiba Al-Janabi’s Daoud’s Winter picked up the $10,000 Empire Award.
Hind Bensari’s documentary Weight Throwers, about Morocco’s forgotten paralympian champions, won the $10,000 Sanad Film Fund Abu Dhabi Award.
Producers Rami Nihawi (Ibrahim), Myriam Sassine (The Inheritor), Rula Nasser (Papion on Top of the Water Tank), Lamia Chraibi (A Step Behind the Sun) and Ossama Bawardi (Wajib) were also awarded accreditations to Producers Network by the Cannes Film Market.
DIFF’s respected co-financing market re-launched this year after one-year hiatus with its long-time chief Jane William holding the reins once again.
A total of 12 film projects Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco and Jordan were presented at the three-day event, split equally between male and male directors.
“We’re incredibly proud we’ve had a really strong slate to re-launch the DFC,” Williams said at the awards ceremony. “We’ve always been about diversity and here are a range of diverse and very strong voices. We have always been about quality and these projects are of a very high quality.”