The 12th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival 2015 (DIFF) came to a close on December 16 after a spectacular eight-day event that touched audiences from the UAE, the region and the world.
With some of the world’s most inspired and critically acclaimed filmmakers, actors and celebrities gracing the 12th edition, the region’s most prominent film festival stole the hearts of passionate audiences with an outstanding array of screenings, galas, performances and red carpet experiences for all to enjoy.
DIFF closed its curtains with a Red Carpet Gala Screening of Adam McKay’s star-studded financial-crisis comedy-drama ‘The Big Short’, based on the best-selling novel and featuring a cast including Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell. This was followed by a spectacular event, featuring a special performance from internationally acclaimed reggae-fusion artist, Shaggy presented by the international events company 117 Live and the Audience.
Abdulhamid Juma, Dubai International Film Festival Chairman, said: “Over the past eight days, we have seen film unite the community and bring together people from all walks of life and from all over the world. This year, the Festival has told stories of love and family; of war, heartbreak and isolation; of music and joy. We have heard tales from the heart of South America to the Far East, and from the Middle East to the extremes of Scandinavia. The work of a stellar collection of bright, innovative and extremely talented filmmakers that we have been proud to showcase at DIFF has crossed boundaries and expanded cultural horizons. That is the true power of cinema.”
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“As each year of the Festival comes and goes, we are left astonished by the breath-taking works that filmmakers are able to produce as the industry continues to flourish in the region. Having such a wide variety of new and established filmmakers present at the festival has transformed Dubai into a hub for cinematography alongside some of the most prestigious film festivals the world has to offer. Fostering the growth of up and coming filmmakers is an objective we will never stop striving to achieve, and we sincerely look forward to seeing what the future holds for filmmaking in the region,” he added.
On the closing day of the Festival, DIFF announced the deserving winners of the Muhr Awards at a ceremony that took place in the Madinat Theatre at Madinat Jumeirah, home of the Festival. The Awards were presented by His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Winning the Best Director in the Muhr Emirati category was Nasser Aldhaheri for his thrilling film ‘A Tale of Water, Palm Trees and Family’, winner of the Best Emirati Feature went to ‘Going to Heaven’ directed by Saeed Salmeen, whilst ‘Omnia’ directed by Amna Al Nowais was named Best Muhr Emirati Short. In the Muhr Shorts category, Special Jury Prize went to Faiza Ambah for ‘Mariam’ and the Best Muhr Short went to gifted director Basil Khalil for ‘Ave Maria’. In the Muhr Gulf Short category, Best Muhr Gulf Short went to the deserving Rizgar Husen for ‘The Boss’, and Hind Al Fahhad was awarded the Special Jury Prize for her compelling film ‘Peddiers’.
The Muhr Feature category saw Salem Brahimi awarded the Special Jury Prize for his feature ‘Let Them Come’, while Mahmood Soliman was presented with the Best Muhr Non-Fiction Feature prize for ‘We Have Never Been Kids’ and winner of the Best Muhr Fiction Feature was handed to Leyla Bouzid for ‘As I Open My Eyes’. Best Director was presented to Mahmood Soliman – picking up his second award – for his outstanding film ‘We Have Never Been Kids’, Lotfi Abdelli was named Best Actor thanks to his role in ‘Borders of Heaven’, whilst the Best Actress honour went Menna Shalabi for her breath-taking performance in ‘Nawara’. Abdullah Hassan Ahmad stole the spotlight by winning the Ministry of Interior Award, along with a staggering prize of USD 100,000, for ‘Best Societal Screenplay’.
The Muhr Awards launched in 2006 to provide financial support and in-production support to filmmakers in the region, some of whom have gone on to be recognised globally, thus reinforcing the unquestionable role DIFF has had in the development of film for the region.
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Masoud Amralla Al Ali, DIFF Artistic Director, said: “I can assure you it was no easy feat selecting this year’s winners. The strength of the competition was fierce and fantastic, and our Jury truly had their work cut out for them with such an impressive number of worthy projects. I am confident these titles – and many more that we showcased at DIFF this year - will go onto to win industry acclaim as well as the hearts and imaginations of audiences around the world.
“Since its establishment in 2004, DIFF has enhanced the film industry in the UAE, making it a global hub for filmmakers, actors, producers and scriptwriters, to progress their talents and showcase their skills on a global platform. Twelve years later, DIFF is still thriving, succeeding year-on-year to bring local and regional talent into the spotlight,” he added.
A host of talented individuals were also awarded for their noteworthy efforts in supporting the Festival. Sayema Wasi from Manipal University was presented with the Young Journalist Award by Mohammed Al Mezel – Managing Editor of the UAE’s largest English daily newspaper Gulf News – for her tireless work reporting on the Festival. The People’s Choice Award, presented by Abdulhamid Juma, DIFF’s Chairman, was awarded to Hany Abu-Assad for his outstanding film ‘The Idol’, as judged by audiences.
The dates for next year’s Festival, which will mark DIFF’s 13th edition, have been confirmed as 7th – 14th December. The Festival will take place at Madinat Jumeriah, the home of DIFF.
Since being established in 2004, DIFF has grown to become an influential platform for the regions most talented artists to showcase their films, as part of this the Dubai Film Market was incepted to provide production and post-production funding and support for budding directors in the region.