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The sixth edition of Dubai International Film Festival concluded with 28 prizes

28 prizes presented for acting and cinematic excellence

The sixth edition of Dubai International Film Festival concluded on Wednesday night with a glittering award ceremony that honoured the finest acting and cinematic talent from the Arab world, Asia and Africa at the Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica awards.

In all, 28 prizes were distributed for excellence in acting, cinematography, editing, music and scriptwriting in addition to the jury general excellence awards. The entries were from more than 62 nations across Asia, Africa, the Americas, Australia and Europe in three categories -documentaries, short films and feature films.

DIFF received more than 900 entries from the Arab world, Asia and Africa for over US$575,000 in prize money, in addition to the acclaim of a prestigious international jury. The Muhr Arab competition, open to directors of Arab nationality or origin, drew around 437 entries, while the Muhr AsiaAfrica competition, currently in its second year, received over 513 entries.

DIFF Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali said the strong participation of films, documentaries and shorts for the Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica awards was matched by impressive creativity and technical finesse. "The increased participation and the quality of participating films underscores the fact that DIFF has helped drive regional talent in cinema, offering filmmakers in the Arab world, Asia and Africa a definitive platform to showcase their creativity."

The winners of ‘Movies in Motion,' an innovative pan-Arab talent contest for budding filmmakers in the Middle East organised by MBC, were also awarded. The third prize winner was Diab Ghazi; the second prize went to Dani Hasecic and the first prize was won by Mohammed Al Badri.  Ouail Mohammed won the People's Choice Award in the 2-minute movie competition that received 550 entries.

DIFF 2009 has partnered with the Human Rights Film Network a partnership of human rights film festivals around the world. Established in Prague in 2004, the Network promotes exchange, communication and collaboration regarding the representation of human rights issues in moving pictures. Merzak Allouache for HARRAGAS (Algeria) won the inaugural DIFF Human Rights Film Network Award, selected from 10 movies that best depicted the human rights themes.

The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI), the foremost body of film writers, academics and critics from over 60 countries, presents the annual ‘Prize of the International Critics' for Arab films screened at DIFF. The winner of the award for the best feature film in the Muhr Awards for Excellence in Arab Cinema goes to Merzak Allouache for HARRAGAS (Algeria) for its complexity in depicting one of the most serious human problems of the Third World: The emigration. This year FIPRESCI also introduces an award for best shorts in Muhr Arab Awards, which was clinched by Mohammad Aldhahri for SHROUQ/GHROUB (SUNRISE/SUNSET) (Saudi Arabia) for its simple strong style and courageous approach of the undercurrent problems that a young boy facing in our society.

The People Choice Award for 2009 was clinched by Zeina Daccache for the documentary 12 Angry Lebanese.

Emirati talent was highlighted at DIFF when three awards were presented at the closing ceremony. The prize for Best Emirati talent went to Mohammed Hassan Ahmad; the Most Promising Emirati female filmmaker was Manal Bin Amro and Most Promising Emirati filmmaker was Nawaf Al Janahi.

Muhr AsiaAfrica Feature Jury Chairman Bahman Farmanara said: "Judging is not an easy process, especially in art, where creativity is defined by the artists' personal discretions and considerations. But it becomes immensely difficult, and I must say very pleasing, when the quality of films selected by the organizers of the festival is outstanding. Then the whole process becomes rewarding."

He added: "This was what my fellow jury members, Manisha Koirala, , Jean-Micheal Frodon, Keith Shiri, Noureddin Lakhmari and I experienced when evaluating the Muhr AsiaAfrica short-list. The quality of works was extremely encouraging and prompts us to look forward to watching good, powerful films emerge from these two territories in the future."

Muhr AsiaAfrica Documentaries Jury Chairman Budhadeb Dasgupta said: "The films shown in the competition section of Muhr AsiaAfrica Documentary Awards represented varied cultures of different countries of contemporary relevance. It was not easy for us to find the best three from amongst the twelve films addressing different issues, starting from challenges faced by man to political problems."

"The Muhr Arab documentary jury thanks the Dubai International Film Festival and all participating filmmakers for the unique opportunity to watch such a wide and interesting range of films from the Arab world," said Jury Chairman Omar Amiralay. "The films had powerful themes of immediate and topical importance. Yet, they often lacked true cinematic treatment and a well-rounded perspective - two key facets that are extremely important to deliver compelling documentaries."

He added: "Some films were indeed passionate about their themes. There was a sincere effort and true determination to bring about change and reform but we believe that only a genuinely artistic engagement can deliver an engaging, moving and powerful film experience."

The Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica award winners are:

Muhr AsiaAfrica Short Films:
First Prize
Dyana Gaye for UN TRANSPORT EN COMMUN (SAINT LOUIS BLUES)
France, Senegal

Special Jury Prize
Sung-hee Jo for DON'T STEP OUT OF THE HOUSE
South Korea

Second Prize
Vinoo Choliparambil for VITTHAL
India

Muhr Arab Short Films:
First Prize
Bassam Ali Jarbawi for CHICKEN HEADS
Palestine

Special Jury Prize
Talal Khoury for 9AAB (9 AUGUST)
Lebanon

Second Prize
Aida Elkashef for RHAPSODY IN AUTUMN
Egypt

Special Mention
Mohammad Aldhahri for SHROUQ/GHROUB (SUNRISE/SUNSET)
Saudi Arabia

Muhr AsiaAfrica Documentary:
First Prize
Tokachi Tsuchiya for FUTSU NO SHIGOTO GA SHITAI (A NORMAL LIFE, PLEASE)
Japan

Special Jury Prize
Lloyd Ross for THE SILVER FEZ
South Africa

Second Prize
Jean-Marie Teno for LIEUX SAINTS (SACRED PLACES)
Cameroon, France

Muhr Arab Documentary:
First Prize
Zeina Daccache for 12 ANGRY LEBANESE - THE DOCUMENTARY
Lebanon

Special Jury Prize
Mai Iskander for GARBAGE DREAMS
USA

Second Prize
Bilal Yousef for AL AWDA ELA AL THAT (BACK TO ONE'S ROOTS)
Qatar, Palestine

Special Mention
Hakim Belabbes for ASHLAA (IN PIECES)
Morocco

Muhr AsiaAfrica - Feature
Best Screenplay
Eun-kyo Park and Bong Joon-ho for MOTHER
South Korea

Best Editor
Garreth Fradgley for SHIRLEY ADAMS
South Africa

Best Composer
Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr and Koichi Shimizu for NANG MAI (NYMPH)
Thailand, Netherlands

Best Cinematographer
Channa Deshapriya for AHASIN WETEI (BETWEEN TWO WORLDS)
Sri Lanka, France

Best Actor
Hasan Pourshirazi for KESHTZARHAYE SEPID (THE WHITE MEADOWS)
Iran

Best Actress
Denise Newman for SHIRLEY ADAMS
South Africa

Special Jury Prize
Mohammad Rasoulof for KESHTZARHAYE SEPID (THE WHITE MEADOWS)
Iran

Muhr Arab - Feature
Best Screenplay
Mariam Naoum for WAHED-SEFR (ONE-ZERO)
Egypt

Best Editor
Ahmed Dawood for ASAFEER EL NEEL (THE NILE BIRDS)
Egypt

Best Composer
Le Trio Joubran for ADIEU GARY (FAREWELL GARY)
France

Best Cinematographer
Nancy Abdel Fattah for WAHED-SIFR (ONE-ZERO)
Egypt

Best Actor
Said Bey for THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD
Morocco

Best Actress
Nisreen Faour for AMREEKA
USA, Canada, Kuwait

Special Mention
Shawkat Amin Korki for KICK OFF
Japan, Iraq

Special Jury Prize
Merzak Allouache for HARRAGAS
Algeria

Muhr AsiaAfrica Feature - Best Film
Brillante Mendoza for LOLA
France, Philippines

Muhr Arab Feature - Best Film
Michel Khleifi for ZINDEEQ
Palestine, United Kingdome, United Arab Emirates

The Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica award winning films will be screened at Cinestar cinemas  at Mall of the Emirates on Friday, Dec. 18, 2009.

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