The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) and Swiss luxury watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen, have revealed a shortlist of four talented Gulf filmmakers for the sixth IWC Filmmaker Award. These four directors from the region vie for the cash prize of USD 100,000 and the opportunity to bring their vision to life in front of a global audience. The award will be presented during the 14th edition of DIFF, which takes place from 6 to 13 December 2017.
The four shortlisted directors will present their projects to an acclaimed jury headed by Academy Award–winning actress Cate Blanchett. The jury will determine the potential of each film project and select the winner. Joining Cate Blanchett on the judging panel will be IWC CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr, DIFF Chairman Abdulhamid Juma, Tunisian actress Hend Sabri, and DIFF Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali. The award will be presented to the winning filmmaker at an exclusive gala event on Thursday, 7 December 2017, at the One&Only Royal Mirage in Dubai.
Brief profiles of the nominees and their projects -
Nayla Al Khaja: “Animal” - pioneering Emirati director, screenwriter and producer Nayla Al Khaja tells a personal tale of the toll a tumultuous home environment can take on a fragile child. “Animal” is set in Al Matina, an old neighbourhood of Dubai, where an upper middle class household is ruled by its unstable and cruel patriarch. To escape their harsh reality, the two siblings shape a parallel world fueled by creativity, pranks and imagination.
Mohamed Rashed Buali: “Kombars” - Self-made Bahraini filmmaker and recipient of a Venice film festival Golden Lion Mohamed Rashed Buali returns to the IWC Filmmaker Award with “Kombars”. The film follows Bader, a widower in his forties who works as an office boy at a ministry and spends his spare time taking on acting jobs to earn additional income. Bader learns that he is now the proud owner of a women’s lingerie shop, following the death of his aunt. However, he is given one month to find a wife and marry, in order to save his spot on the government housing benefit list.
Haifaa Al Mansour: “Miss Camel” - Haifaa Al Mansour is Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker getting acclaim for her fearless take on taboos and controversial issues. Her new project, “Miss Camel”, tells the story of Hayla, a blossoming Saudi teen who dreams of attending art school outside of Saudi Arabia. Hayla makes a startling discovery that she can talk to animals. Melwah, a beautiful camel that she sees every day confronts her about her plan and convinces Hayla to accompany her to the Miss Camel beauty pageant across the border.
Muzna Almusafer: “The Crown of Olives” - Award-winning and Enjaaz-supported Omani filmmaker Muzna Almusafer, returns to DIFF with her captivating feature “The Crown of Olives”. Set in the sleepy city of Muscat, the story follows Reem, who arrives in the Omani capital from the olive fields of Morocco to work in a brothel as a dancer until a chance encounter with Marwa, a henna painter. The two strike up a friendship and Reem moves into the Omani house shortly after. The friendship disintegrates as the story unfolds and the relationship between Marwa and her boyfriend Ismael falls apart. Her emotional turmoil and need for revenge is suddenly aimed at Reem.