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Palestinian Annemarie Jacir’s ‘Wajib’ Wins Big at Dubai Festival

Lebanese helmer Lucien Bourjeily scores the special jury prize for ‘Heaven Without People’

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The 14th Dubai Int’l Film Festival handed out prizes Dec. 13 at an afternoon awards ceremony preceding the evening gala premiere of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

The Muhr feature jury, headed by prominent German actress Martina Gedeck, gave the best fiction feature nod to the poignant Palestinian father-son drama “Wajib,” helmed by Annemarie Jacir. The film also nabbed the best actor kudo, shared by real-life father and son co-stars, Mohammed and Saleh Bakri.

Syrian director Ziad Khalthoum secured the best non-fiction prize for “Taste Of Cement,” focusing on the dire situation for Syrian construction workers in Beirut.  Lebanese helmer Lucien Bourjeily scored the special jury prize for the drama “Heaven Without People.”

Rounding out the feature awards, Algerian Sofia Djama took best director for the France-Belgium-Qatar production “The Blessed,” while Menha El Batroui earned the best actress nod for her work in indie Egyptian drama “Cactus Flower.”

Prolific Egyptian helmer Magdi Ahmed Ali headed the Muhr Emirati jury, which recognized the documentary “Sharp Tools” directed by Nujoom Alghanem as best Emirati feature, Abdullah Aljunaibi as best Emirati director for the horror flick “Camera” and “Escape,” helmed by Hana Alshateri and Yaser Al Neyadi, as best Emirati short.

French filmmaker Gilles Marchand presided over the Muhr shorts and Gulf shorts categories.  Helmer Mahdi Fleifel nabbed best short for “A Drowning Man,” while Cyril Aris   took the jury prize for “The President’s Visit.”

“Land Of Our Fathers” from Ulaa Salim captured best Gulf short and Dhyaa Joda took the jury prize for “Sabyea.”

Appropriately for a year in which the DIFF market put a spotlight on the U.K., the U.K. drama “Goodbye Christopher Robin,” helmed by Simon Curtis, won the Emirates NBD People’s Choice Award.

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