Femme helmers feature strongly among kudos winners

Groundbreaking Saudi film “Wadjda” was a popular pick for the top prize in the Muhr Arab feature competition of the Dubai Film Festival, which wrapped Sunday.

The ceremony was heavy on awards. Though previous categories for cinematography and music were eliminated this year, there were still plenty of special mentions and special jury prizes as well as a combined purse totaling more than $600,000 for all sections.

Audience fave was split between French animated kids pic “Ernest and Celestine” and Sweden’s Iraqi-Kurdish drama “Bekas.”

Other best film prizes included Zeki Demirkubuz’s “Inside,” in the AsiaAfrica Feature competition, while the best Arab docu went to Palestinian-German helmer Pary El-Qalqili’s debut “The Turtle’s Rage.” Nishtha Jain’s “Gulabi Gang” nabbed the highest honor in the AsiaAfrica Docu section, adding to a proportionally strong showing for women helmers.

In the Arab Features competition, best director went to Kamal El Mahouti for French-Moroccan production “My Brother,” with thesping prizes going to charismatic child actress Waad Mohammed for her debut perf in “Wadjda,” and Amr Waked was top actor for Egypt’s “Winter of Discontent.” Also selected for honors was a Special Jury Prize to Nadine Khan for her Egyptian drama “Chaos, Disorder.”

Kim Ki-duk bagged the director prize in the AsiaAfrica Features section for “Pieta,” while Aida El-Kashef won the actress award for India’s “Ship of Theseus” and Engin Gunaydin took home best actor for “Inside.” The Special Jury Prize went to India’s “Valley of Saints,” directed by Musa Syeed.

Among docus, Algerian Hinde Boujemaa received the top Arab helmer award for “It Was Better Tomorrow,” while the Special Jury Prize for Arab non-fiction went to Khaled Jarra’s “Infiltrators.” In the AsiaAfrica Docu section, Wang Bing was recognized as best director for “Three Sisters,” and the Iranian omnibus “Kahrizak, Four Views” received the Special Jury Award.

Top award for Arab short went to Ahmed Ibrahim’s “Noor,” while FIPRESCI saluted “Infiltrators” and Djamila Sahraoui’s “Yema.”

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