DUBAI // Fourteen films will screen during the Muhr Emiratis, the first Emirati-only competition to be held as part of the Dubai International Film Festival (Diff), it was announced yesterday.
Twelve of the home-grown films are world premieres and one stars a Hollywood actor. Masoud Amralla al Ali, the Diff artistic director, said the quality of the selections reflected continued growth in the national film industry.
"We are delighted that talented youth in the UAE have recognised and leveraged the opportunities on offer at Diff, and are contributing to establishing a full-fledged UAE-based film industry," he said.
The Philosopher, a film based on Charlie Fish's book Baggio's Story, was directed by Fujairah's Abdullah al Kaabi - who managed to secure Jean Reno, from Leon: The Professional and The Big Blue, for the role.
The film cost Dh1 million to make and was shot in Paris earlier this year using an 80-member cast and crew.
Alongside this entry will be Nayla al Khaja's Malal, the first Emirati film to be made in India.
Ahmed and Rashid bin Shabib, the brothers who set up the community space called The Shelter and the design magazine, Brown Book, will also be making their film debut with a documentary entitled Brownbook Urban Series - Ten Episodes of People Transforming the Region.
Also in competition are Ali al Jabri's short film, Solo, which narrates the story of a frustrated musician, and Muna al Ali's film Ea'ada (Rewind), which explores what would happen if we could delve into our memories and change the course of past events.
Masoud Amralla al Ali said Diff had always dedicated time and space for local filmmakers but introduced the Emirati-only festival to "match the evolution of the local talent base".
"We are very heartened by the results of our efforts and extremely proud to host a rich and varied selection of quality films for our first Muhr Emirati competition," he said.
The films will be judged by a three-member jury including the film critic Samir Farid, Ahmed al Mulla from the organising committee of the Riyadh Film Festival and the poet Ibrahim Abdul Karim al Mulla, who will announce the three winners at the awards ceremony on December 19.
The first prize is Dh35,000, while second place will receive Dh15,000. There is also one special jury prize of Dh25,000. The 10-day Diff begins on December 12.