Dubai Film Fest: Hany Abu Assad's 'Omar' Wins Top Prize

The Palestinian foreign Oscar nomination hopeful, which opened this year's Dubai event, is among the winners of this year's Muhr Awards.

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) organizers dished out its Muhr awards on the eve of the shindig's end, which will close Saturday with a gala screening of David O. Russell's American Hustle.

The awards were presented at a standalone ceremony Dec. 13 by Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, United Arab Emirates vp, prime minister and ruler of Dubai to dozens of the Arab world’s best filmmakers across the myriad Muhr Arab categories, as well as their counterparts from Asia and Africa.

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Winners included Hany Abu Assad for Omar -- the Palestinian film in the best foreign Oscar nomination race -- for the Muhr Arab best director award. The United Arab Emirates/Palestian co-production's actor/producer Waleed Zuaiter picked up the best film prize for Omar in the same Muhr section.

Other plaudits included Tsai Ming Liang who won the festival's best feature (Asia/Africa) nod for Stray Dogs (Jiao You), a Taiwanese and French co-production.

Screen legend Irrfan Khan secured this year's Muhr best actor (Asia/Africa) prize for The Lunchbox (Dabba), the French, German and Indian co-production that had already attracted positive notices from prior festival screenings.

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Organizers said this year's plaudits marked the most competitive and diverse competition since the inception of the awards in 2006 for Arab entrants and 2007 for filmmakers from Asia/Africa.

Both first-time directors and cinema legends such as Syrian director Mohamed Malas and Egyptian filmmaker Mohamed Khan entered new films this year, beating hundreds of other entrants to be shortlisted.

DIFF chairman Abdulhamid Juma reflected on the event's 10th edition, noting after ten years, "we are seeing recurrent visitors, both film professionals and cinema lovers, from the region and beyond. This year we celebrated the gains that have been made in Arab cinema in the past decade, the result of years of work from our team to discover, nurture and promote talent from the Arab world."

DIFF artistic director Masoud Amralla Al Ali said: "Most of our filmmakers operate outside the Hollywood and Bollywood systems, which means that they are free to experiment and take creative risks. We at DIFF are grateful to be able to support these artists financially so that they continue to show the world what they can do."

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The 2013 winners are:

Emirates NBD People's Choice Award:

Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee for FROZEN – USA

Amal Al-Agroobi  for THE BRAIN THAT SINGS - UAE



FIPRESCI Short: Ahmed Yassin for ATFAL ALLAH (CHILDREN OF GOD) - Iraq, UK, Hungary

FIPRESCI Documentary: Zeina Daccache for SCHEHERAZADE’S DIARY - Lebanon

FIPRESCI Feature: Mohammed Khan for FATAT EL MASNAA (FACTORY GIRL) - Egypt, UAE


Muhr Emirati:

Special Mention: Mohammad Fikree for GIRL & IT - UAE

Best Director: Muna Al Ali for CONCEALMENT - UAE

Special Jury Prize: Claudia Corbelli and Greg White for AL JAARA (THE NEIGHBOUR) - UAE

Best Film:Abdullah Hasan Ahmed and Khalid Al Mahmood for LA TKHALEENY (DON’T LEAVE ME) – UAE


Muhr AsiaAfrica:

Muhr AsiaAfrica Short: 


Special Mention: Cédric Ido for TWAAGA - Burkina Faso, France

Best Director: Sandeep Ray for SHIRNO BAHU (THIN ARMS) - India

Special Jury Prize: Halla Kim for THE WAY BACK - South Korea

Best Film: Askhat Kuchinchirekov for BENZIN BITTI (GAS IS OVER) – Kazakhstan


Muhr AsiaAfrica Documentary:

Special Mention: Lynn Lee and James Leong for WUKAN: MINZU ZHI GUANG (WUKAN: THE FLAME OF DEMOCRACY) - Singapore

Best Director: Pin Pin Tan for TO SINGAPORE, WITH LOVE - Singapore

Special Jury Prize: Sara Rastegar for MES SOULIERS ROUGES (MY RED SHOES) - France

Best Film: Yoshiko Hashimoto and Shigeki Kinoshita for MATSURI NO UMA (THE HORSES OF FUKUSHIMA) – Japan


Muhr AsiaAfrica Feature:

Special Mention: Souleymane Démé for his role in GRIGRIS - France, Chad

Special Mention: Ritesh Batra for the screenplay of DABBA (THE LUNCHBOX) - France, Germany, India

Best Actress: Yeo Yann Yann for ILO ILO - Singapore

Best Actor: Irrfan Khan for DABBA (THE LUNCHBOX) - France, Germany, India

Best Director: Tsai Ming Liang for JIAO YOU (STRAY DOGS) - Taiwan, France

Special Jury Prize: Sepehr Seifi for MAHI VA GORBEH (FISH & CAT) - Iran

Best Film: Ang Hwee Sim, Anthony Chen, Wahyuni A. Hadi For ILO ILO – Singapore


Muhr Arab:

Muhr Arab Short:

Special Mention: Camille Salameh for his role in AKAR (TROUBLED WATERS) - Lebanon

Special Mention: Ahmed Yassin for ATFAL ALLAH (CHILDREN OF GOD) - Iraq, UK, Hungary

Best Director: Ali Cherri for THE DISQUIET - Lebanon, France

Special Jury Prize: Haider Rashid for THE DEEP - Iraq, Italy

Best Film: Bavi Yassin, Nore Maatala for DE VERLOREN STEM (THE LOST VOICE) - Belgium, Iraq


Muhr Arab Documentary:

Special Mention: Zeina Daccache for SCHEHERAZADE’S DIARY - Lebanon


Special Jury Prize: Diala Kachmar and Carole Abboud for GUARDIANS OF TIME LOST - Lebanon, UAE

Best Film: Karim Amer for AL MIDAN (THE SQUARE) - USA, Egypt


Muhr Arab Feature:

Special Mention: Mohammed Amin Benamraoui for WADAAN CARMEN (ADIOS CARMEN) - Morocco, Belgium, UAE

Special Mention: Raouia for her roles in ROCK THE CASBAH - Morocco, France and SARIROU AL ASSRAR (PILLOW SECRETS) - Morocco, Qatar

Best Actress: Yasmine Raees for FATAT EL MASNAA (FACTORY GIRL) - Egypt, UAE

Best Actor: Hassan Badida for C’EST EUX LES CHIENS (THEY ARE THE DOGS) - Morocco

Best Director: Hany Abu Assad for OMAR - Palestine, UAE

Special Jury Prize: Nabil Ayouch for C’EST EUX LES CHIENS (THEY ARE THE DOGS) - Morocco

Best Film: Waleed Zuaiter for OMAR - Palestine, UAE