The fourth edition of the Dubai Film Connection closed last night with the announcement of seven awards to Arab films in various stages of production. A total of 15 films - 12 in development and three works in progress - were competing for the prizes and collectively racked up more than 300 one-to-one meetings with prospective backers during the three-day event.
Three USD25,000 DIFF Awards were presented. One went to ‘Housekeeping' (Lebanon/Egypt), director Mazen Khaled and producer Katia Saleh's portrait of a 50-year-old Beirut cleaning woman; another to ‘One Day and 124 Nights' (Lebanon), director Sabine El Chamaa and producer Andreas Atzwanger's multi-stranded car-crash drama; and the last to ‘Standstill' (Canada), from director Majdi El-Omari and producer Cédric Bourdeau, in which a Mohawk photographer tries to rebuild his life after leaving his reservation.
The International Relations ARTE Prize of €6,000, awarded for exceptional originality, writing style, and motivation, went to ‘Ali, the Goat, and Ibrahim' (Egypt), director Ibrahim El Batout and producer Hossam Elouan's drama about idiosyncratic Cairo characters.
The Film Clinic DIFF Debut Feature Award, worth USD10,000, was awarded to ‘I Am Nojood, 10 Years Old and Divorced' (Yemen/France), director Khadja Al Salami and producer Benoît Jaubert's feature about a Yemeni girl seeking to dissolve her marriage.
The Desert Door DIFF Work in Progress Award of USD25,000 was won by ‘Confession and Struggle' (Lebanon), director-producer Eliane Raheb and producer Nizar Hassan's documentary feature about the Lebanese Civil War.
And the USD15,000 Screen Institute Beirut DIFF Documentary Award went to ‘In Search of Oil and Sand' (Egypt), a documentary feature by director Philippe L. Dib and producer Wael Omar about the ‘Zohreya set' of Cairo society movers and shakers whose pet movie project foreshadowed the overthrow of the king in 1952.