Oscar-nominated producer, writer and director Lee Daniels will head the jury for the 11th Dubai International Film Festival’s (DIFF) prestigious Muhr Feature Competition.
Daniels will head a jury of four members, who will weigh each of the entries to select a winner.
The Muhr Arab competition has become a key platform for launching new works by Arab filmmakers, regularly welcoming cinematic giants such as Egypt’s Mohamed Khan, Palestinian Oscar nominee Hany Abu Assad, and Saudi Arabia’s Haifaa Al Mansour.
Speaking ahead of his visit to DIFF, Lee Daniels said: “I’m thrilled to be visiting the Emirates for the first time and to have the privilege of being part of the Dubai International Film Festival’s jury. This festival is truly a host to international cinema, it’s an exciting time for me to join the festival and experience everything that it has to offer.”
Daniels’s most recent production was the box-office hit ‘The Butler’ (2013), which starred Forrest Whittaker, Oprah Winfrey and Mariah Carey. Prior to ‘The Butler’ he produced and directed the critically acclaimed Oscar winning drama ‘Precious’, which won numerous awards including two Oscars for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for Monique, and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay for Geoffrey Fletcher and made Daniels the first African-American to have directed a film nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.
Daniels has not followed a traditional role in film; he started in the industry as a casting director, and subsequently managed talent for a number of years before producing and, finally, directing and writing films which have received international acclaim.
Masoud Amralla Al Ali, artistic director, Dubai International Film Festival, said: “Lee Daniels is one of the most distinguished American filmmakers today, who has built his illustrious career on embracing the dynamics and diversities of life’s challenging situations, he is uniquely poised to understand filmmakers from the Arab world, their aspirations, and their unique viewpoints.
“It is exciting to welcome an artist as unconventional, yet commercially minded; a compassionate and honest artist who has created a niche for himself within Hollywood. We look forward to understanding the motivation behind Mr. Daniels work further when we welcome him to the UAE.”
The Muhr competition celebrates feature, documentary and short films, and non-feature films by filmmakers from the region. DIFF audiences can view all shortlisted competition films as part of the regular festival programming from December 10 to 17, 2014.