The curtain finally fell on the Dubai International Film Festival 2017 with an impressive closing ceremony. Over 140 films from globally acclaimed filmmakers were showcased during the eight-day period starting from December 6. The film festival hosted a diverse selection of galas, special presentations, live performances, red carpet events and informative industry sessions, which made the Festival’s 14th year an unforgettable experience for all.
The closing night gala saw the most recent adventure from a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, enjoyed by a full house. The next instalment in the sci-fi saga held its premiere at the Madinat Jumeirah, and was welcomed to the Festival in true Coruscant style with a Star Wars takeover for the final gala. Characters from the decades-spanning franchise graced the red carpet as DIFF audiences turned out in their best Star Wars costumes to ensure the Festival’s final screening provided a fitting end to a spectacular week.
The major highlight of the closing ceremony was the presentation of Muhr awards to the winners by His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Winning the Best Director in the Muhr Emirati category was Abdullah Aljunaibi for his thrilling film Camera, winner of the Best Emirati Feature went to Sharp Tools directed by Nujoom Alghanem, whilst Escape directed by Hana Alshateri and Yaser Al Neyadi was named Best Muhr Emirati Short.
In the Muhr Short category, the Special Jury Prize went to Cyril Aris for The President’s Visit and the Best Muhr Short went to gifted director Mahdi Fleifel for The Drowning Man. In the Muhr Gulf Short category, Best Muhr Gulf Short went to the deserving Ulaa Salim for Fædreland (Land of Our Fathers), and Dhyaa Joda was awarded the Special Jury Prize for her compelling film Sabyea.
The Muhr Feature category saw Lucien Bourjeily awarded the Special Jury Prize for his feature Heaven Without People, while Ziad Khalthoum was presented with the Best Muhr Non-Fiction Feature prize for Taste of Cement, and winner of the Best Muhr Fiction Feature was handed to Annemarie Jacir for Wajib. Taking home Best Actress in the Feature category was Menha El Batroui, for her role in Cactus Flower, and she was joined by Mohammad Bakri and Saleh Bakri as a joint Best Actor award for Wajib. Best Director was presented to Sofia Djama for her outstanding film The Blessed.
Celebrating the craft of storytelling, Sajda Almuallemi was awarded the Arab Film Studio Scriptwriting Award for her compelling work Unexpected Holiday. The People’s Choice Award was presented to Goodbye, Christopher Robin, directed by Simon Curtis, as judged by DIFF’s diverse audiences.
Abdulhamid Juma, Dubai International Film Festival Chairman, said, “DIFF’s 2017 Festival saw new talent emerging, and communities brought together through the power of cinema. The 14th edition’s extensive lineup of films, both close and far from home, have once again thrilled audiences, and we are honoured to have brought this splendour to life.”
Shivani Pandya, Managing Director, DIFF, said, “This year has been another fantastic edition of the Dubai International Film Festival. We are particularly thrilled to continue our commitment to shining a spotlight on Arab filmmakers by working to create unmatched networking opportunities and connections through the Dubai Film Market.”
Commenting on the UK- Arab film collaboration, she said, “The UK Spotlight programme focused on strengthening the bridge between two flourishing industries - the UK and the MENA region – with the support of BAFTA, BFI and the British Council. Partnerships such as these have not only helped amplify our goal of showcasing regional cinema to an international audience, but has also given budding filmmakers the chance to gain valuable insights and industry knowledge from experts in their craft.
Peeping into the future, she added, “We are delighted to have hosted such a collaborative Festival for 2017, and look forward to continuing cross-cultural conversations in the next edition.”