DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The 13th Dubai Int’l Film Festival handed out their prizes Dec. 14 at a ceremony preceding the gala regional premiere of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” The Muhr feature jury, headed by maverick German helmer and artist Ulrike Ottinger, gave the best fiction feature nod to Kurdish writer-director Hussein Hassan for the poignant and topical “The Dark Wind,” a fact-based drama about a captured Yazidi woman sold into slavery by ISIS.
Lebanese director Maher Abi Samra nabbed the best non-fiction prize for “A Maid for Each,” focusing on a Beirut agency that recruits and supplies domestic workers. Samer’s compatriot Eliane Raheb, who earlier triumphed in the Dubai Film Connection awards, clinched the special jury prize for the documentary “Those Who Remain,” about the personal and political challenges of those living in the tense Akkar region of Lebanon.
Rounding out the feature awards, Egyptian helmer Mohammed Hammad took best director for his feature debut “Withered Green,” about a female Imam, while Egyptian street theater thesp Ali Sobhi nabbed best actor for “Ali, The Goat And Ibrahim” and Lebanese performer Julia Kassar earned the best actress nod for her work in “Tramontane.”
Renowned Egyptian helmer Yousry Nasrallah headed the Muhr Emirati jury, which recognized the boundary-pushing auteur film “Only Men Go To The Grave” directed by Abdulla Al Kaabi as best Emirati feature, Yaser Alneyadi as best Emirati director for the twisted short “Shrimp” and “Mamsous” helmed by Shatha Masoud as best Emirati short.
Ukrainian filmmaker Sergey Loznitsa presided over the Muhr shorts and Gulf shorts categories. Tunisian helmer Mehdi M. Barsaoui nabbed best short for “We Are Just Fine Like This,” while Lebanese director Mounia Akl took the jury prize for “Submarine.” Bader Alhomoud’s “The Bliss of Being No One” captured best Gulf short and Mohammed Alholayyil took the jury prize for “300KM.”
Although the number 13 may be considered unlucky by some, this year’s DIFF was remarkable for how smoothly it ran while offering a diverse selection of galas, special presentations, live performances, red carpet events and informative industry sessions. Meanwhile, at the festival HQ, the opportunity to experience the latest trends in Virtual Reality proved one of the most popular Dubai Film Market offerings.