Dubai Fest Taps ‘Omar,’ ‘The Square’ for Top Arab Pic Honors

Omar by Hany Abu-Assad

Middle East showcase awards other regional pics ahead of closing night

The Dubai Intl. Film Festival’s 10th edition, which closes Dec. 14, handed out their Muhr Awards on Dec. 13 with prizes totaling more than $575,000. The fest’s four main categories, divided into Arab and Asian/African features and docus, resulted in a large number of films and personalities taking home honors. In the Arab section, Hany Abu Assad’s Cannes-preemed “Omar,” pictured above, unsurprisingly nabbed best feature as well as best director from a jury headed by Irish helmer Jim Sheridan.

Also in that strand, best actress went to Yasmine Raees for her role in Mohamed Khan’s “Factory Girl” (Egypt), with best actor going to Hassan Badida for Hicham Lasri’s “They Are the Dogs,” a Moroccan satire that preemed in the Assn. du Cinema Independent pour sa Diffusion (ACID) parallel event section during the Cannes Film Festival. The jury also awarded the pic their Special Jury prize.

In the Asian/African features division, best film went to Singapore’s much-feted heart-warmer “Ilo Ilo,” directed by Anthony Chen; the pic’s lead Yeo Yann Yann was also awarded as best actress. Tsai Ming Liang was on hand to pick up his top director prize for “Stray Dogs,” while the Special Jury Prize went to Iran’s “Fish & Cat,” by Shahram Mokri. Indian star Irrfan Khan was a popular choice for best actor in Ritesh Batra’s “The Lunchbox.”

Best Arab docu went to Jehane Noujaim’s “The Square,” seeing a second life in its most recent updated cut, screened in Toronto after an earlier Sundance version. Best director went to Egypt’s Salma El Tarzi for “Underground on the Surface,” with the Special Jury prize given to “Guardians of Time Lost” (Lebanon), helmed by Diala Kachmar.

In the Best Asian/African Docu category, top prize went to “The Horses of Fukushima,” directed by Yoju Matsubayashi, with the Special Jury nod to France’s “My Red Shoes,” by exiled Iranian helmer Sara Rastegar. The top director prize was picked up by Singapore’s Pin Pin Tan, for “To Singapore, With Love.” The People’s Choice awards, sponsored by Emirates NBD bank, went to Disney animated 3D pic “Frozen,” while Amal Al-Agroobi’s docu “The Brain That Sings,” focusing on three autistic boys in the UAE, received the public’s best Emirati pic nod.

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