'Masquerades' best Arab film at Dubai fest

Director, actor Lyes Salem also wins critics' award

BANGKOK -- The Dubai International Film Festival on Friday gave its Muhr Arabic Feature Best Film award to "Masquerades" from Algerian actor-director Lyes Salem.

"Masquerades," about a cocky villager who pretends to have found a suitor for his headstrong and narcoleptic sister, also took home the FIPRESCI award from the International Federation of Film Critics.

The Muhr award for best feature from the DIFF's Asia-Africa section went to "Treeless Mountain," a film inspired by the childhood of South Korean director Kim So-yong, in which two young sisters find security and love in the countryside despite the harsh treatment of an alcoholic aunt.

The festival also awarded prizes for best screenplay, talent, composer and director in the features category and prizes for the best short films and documentaries from the Arab World, Africa and Asia. A full list of winners is available at the DIFF Web site.

DIFF drew 47,500 moviegoers to the luxury Madinat Jumeirah beach resort from Dec. 11-18.

Tickets went particularly quickly for the festival's Gala films, such as its closer "Slumdog Millionaire" and South African Apartheid-era biopic "Skin," organizers said.

"We are thrilled by high participation from the public and industry members alike, which means that there is a strong enthusiasm in Dubai for our mandate to showcase quality cinema," DIFF managing director Shivani Pandya said.

Among the celebrities attending red carpet events were Ben Affleck, Salma Hayek, Abdulhussein Abdulredha, Hassan Salwan, Ahmad al Saleh, Goldie Hawn, Preity Zinta, Abhishek Bachchan, Lebleba and Nicolas Cage.

A Cinema Against AIDS event raised nearly $2 million for the prominent HIV/AIDS research foundation amfAR despite the global economic downturn.