'Masquerades' tops as Dubai hands out honors


The Dubai International Film Festival gave its Muhr Award for best Arabic feature 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.

Also on Friday, 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 harsh treatment by 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.

DIFF, which opened Dec. 11 and wrapped Thursday, drew 47,500 moviegoers to the Madinat Jumeirah luxury beach resort.

Tickets went particularly quickly for the festival's gala films, such as the closer "Slumdog Millionaire" and the 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 were Ben Affleck, Salma Hayek, Nicolas Cage, Goldie Hawn, Abdulhussein Abdulredha, Hassan Salwan, Ahmad al Saleh, Preity Zinta and Abhishek Bachchan.

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