The recognition of the best films in the festival and in the AsiaAfrica and Arab Muhr Competitions brought to an end an exciting event in which the crosswinds of Arab nations, Africa and Asia mixed and clarified issues of the film business which will be of great concern for the new cycle the film business is now entering.
The Muhr Awards included a new AsiaAfrica segment embracing films from such emerging markets as Afghanistan, Turkey, Cameroon and Kazakhstan. The Muhr Awards for Excellence in Arab Cinema made a strong show chosen from filmmakers all over the Middle East and around the world. DIFF's Artistic Director Masoud Amralla al Ali had good reason to be proud and the filmmakers will return with future films, judging on their reactions to the royal treatment they received in Dubai.
The prize for Best Emirati Talent went to Haydar Mohammed, Best Emirati Female Filmmaker was presented to Nujoom Al Ghanem and Best Emirati Filmmaker went to Saeed Salmeen Al-Murry. For the first time, the International Federation of Film Critics, or FIPRESCI, awarded a Best Arab Film prize to Masquerades by Lyes Salem.
Other prizes include the Arab Muhr Competition for Feature Film:
* Best Film: Masquerades by Lyes Salem
* Special Jury Prize: Adhen - Dernier Maquis by Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche
* First Prize: 'Thakirat L Sabbar: Hikayat Thalath Qura Falasteenia' ('Memory Of The Cactus: A Story Of Three Palestinian Villages') by Hanna Musleh
* Special Jury Prize: 'Samaan Bidiyaa' ('The One Man Village') by Simon El Habre
* Second Prize: Marina Of The Zabbaleen by Engi Wassef
Best Cinematographer: Luca Coassin for 'Casanegra'
Best Composer: Sylvain Rifflet for 'Adhen - Dernier Maquis'
Best Editor: Nicolas Bancilhon for 'Adhen - Dernier Maquis'
Best Screenplay: Annemarie Jacir for Milh Hadha Al-Bahr ('Salt Of This Sea')
Best Actress: Hafsia Herzi for Francaise
Best Actor: Anas Elbaz and Omar Lotfi for 'Casanegra'
* First Prize: La Route Du Nord ('The North Road') by Carlos Chahine
* Special Jury Prize: 'Bint Mariam' by Saeed Salmeen Al-Murry
* Second Prize: Sa et Asary ('At Day s End') by Sherif El Bendary
Muhr AsiaAfrica Awards
* Best Film: Treeless Mountain by So Yong Kim
* Special Jury Prize: Kyuka ('Vacation') by Hajime Kadoi
* First Prize: Mental by Kazuhiro Soda
* Special Jury Prize: 'Xiao Li Zi' ('Survival Song') by Guangyi Yu
* Second Prize: Une Affarie De Negres ('Black Business') by Osvalde Lewat
Best Cinematographer: Reza Teymouri for 'Aram Bash Va Ta Haft Beshmar' ('Be Calm And Count To Seven')
Best Composer: Jorga Mesfin, Vijay Iyer for Teza
Best Editor: Sreekar Prasad for Firaaq
Best Screenplay: Deepa Mehta for Heaven On Earth
Best Actress: Anh Hong for Trang Noi Day Gieng ('Moon At The Bottom Of The Well')
Best Actor: Askhat Kuchinchirekov for Tulpan
* First Prize: 'Shao Nian Xue' ('Young Blood) by Haolun Shu
* Special Jury Prize: 'Expectations' by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
* Second Prize: 'Kam Sanabanyz' ('Everything Is OK') by Akjoltoy Bekbolotov
The festival had previously announced the results of the second annual Dubai Film Connection (DFC), established to bring Arab and international film professionals together. DFC selected 18 projects from 108 submissions, of which three were awarded a US$25,000 Dubai International Film Festival Prize: 'This is my Picture When I Was Dead' by Mahmoud al Massad (Jordan-Netherlands); 'Barbershop Trinity' by Chadi Zeneddine (Lebanon); and 'Ouardia Once Had Sons' by Djamila Sahraoui (Algeria-Morocco). The three producers of the three projects will attend the prestigious 2009 Cannes Producers Network.
'Every Day is a Holiday' by Dima El-Hor (Lebanon-France) won the DIFF Desert Door Work in Progress Award, the 6,000 Euro ‘"International Relations" prize from French broadcaster Arte went to 'Death for Sale' by Faouzi Bensaiei (Morocco-France-Belgium); and the new Bahrain Film Production Company Works in Progress Award went to 'When I Saw You' by Annemarie Jacir (Palestine-Jordan). The new Young Journalist Award, instituted in 2008 to stimulate interest in film criticism as a career in the region, went to Melissa Khan of Mahe Manipal University in Dubai.
Winners of cash prizes from 21 competing projects in the Dubai Film Connection were chosen by a jury. Global film funds, sales companies and distributors will make deals with the winners of cash prizes, which total about $118,000. The Work In Progress Award of $25,000 from Kuwait company Desert Door went to 'Every Day Is A Holiday', a French/ Lebanese/ German co-production by Dima El-Horr and produced by Thierry Lenourvel. 'When I Saw You' by AnneMarie Jacir from Palestine won the $10,000 Bahrain Film Pfoduction Co. award for projects in development. 'Death For Sale' by Morroccan director Faouzi Bensaidi, on the 6,000 Euro prize from ARTE in France. Aside from the DIFF itself, there are numerous other activities all being ably managed by Shivani Pandya, Managing Director. These concurrent events have commanded great interest. The Co-Production Market run by Jane Williams, formerly with Binger Institut of Amsterdam, Hubert Bals Fund and the Rotterdam Cinemart is showing three works in progress including the Sundance FF 2009 Competition film 'Amreeka' by Cherien Dabis plus a list of other films in various stages of development. Working with Julie Bergeron of the Cannes Market Co-Production Market, the Co-Production Market is opening the doors between East and West in a notably winning style made possible to the warm hospitality of the people of Dubai. The Film Market where you can see every film in the festival plus more in a virtual on-demand video market has made its first deal with Alchemy Films picking up the South African feature ' Mr. Bones 2' for the Middle East. 'Mr Bones' producer, Anant Singh, also a favorite son of Los Angeles as well as of South Africa, is in Dubai with the international premiere of the documentary 'More Than Just a Game'. The Dubai Film Market, run by Zaid Yaghi is built on the model of IDFA's documentary market run by Fred De Haas who also manages the Documentary Market at IDFA. Tom Davia, Head of Programme Administration and Film Services also works with the Miami Film Festival. Other attendees here inlcude Thierry Lenouvel whose film 'Rachel' will be in the Berlinale 2009, Filmmaker Magazine and Forensic Films' Scott Maccaulay, Nadia Saah of New York, whose new company Boomgen Studios creates content and, most importantly, creates niche marketing and distribution for films with Middle Eastern content, Iran's M. Mehdi Yadegan of IRIM Media Trade, the largest TV station in the Middle East, producer Caroline Benjo of Haut et Court, international sales agents Pascal Diot of Onoma Films and Wouter Barendrecht of Fortissimo, Raphael Berdugo of Roissy, who is also a producer of 'Caramel', a Lebanese film which was in the Festival de Cannes and has been a great box office success in Lebanon. And, of course, FilmFinders is here seeing what new developments in the Middle East are being created in this time of great change in our film industry.