Arab films win big at Doha festival

Audience prize for 'First Grader'

The second Doha Tribeca Film Festival wrapped Saturday with three Arab films taking the big prizes and the closing night gala screening of Justin Chadwick’s “The First Grader” nabbing the audience award for best narrative feature.

“Hawi,” Egyptian director Ibrahim El Batout’s third film about the lives of Egyptians in Alexandria, won for Arab film while Lebanese-Swedish director Josef Fares’ “Balls” took Arab filmmaker prize for its screenplay.

Lebanese director Mahmoud Kaabour’s “Grandma, a Thousand Times” grabbed the audience award for documentary and a special jury mention in the Arab film category. All four received $100,000 cash prizes in the first juried awards at the fest in the small, oil-rich country of Qatar on the Arabian Gulf.

Robert De Niro and Tribeca co-founders Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff attended the closing red-carpet event at the Katara Opera House along with fest jurors Yosra, Nick Moran, Danis Tanovic and Bhavna Talwar plus actors including “First Grader” stars Naomie Harris and Oliver Litondo, Palestinian Yasmine Al Massri and Bollywood’s Mallika Sherawat.

The most touching moment of the evening, hosted by Egyptian-American comedian Ahmed Ahmed, saw a tribute and lifetime achievement award go to 70-year-old Egyptian stage and screen thesp Adel Imam.

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