DUBAI, Oct 31: The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) and Swiss luxury watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen, ‘Supporting’ Sponsor and Official ‘Festival-Time’ Partner of DIFF, have revealed a shortlist of talented Gulf filmmakers for the sixth IWC Filmmaker Award.
The award will be presented during the 14th edition of DIFF, which takes place from Dec 6-13, 2017. Four directors from the region will vie for a cash prize of $100,000 and the opportunity to bring their vision to life in front of a global audience.
With a passion for film, IWC has partnered with DIFF for the sixth consecutive year to recognize and support talented filmmakers in the Gulf region.
The nominees for the 2017 IWC Filmmaker Award are: Emirati director and screenwriter Nayla Al Khaja, for “Animal”; Bahraini filmmaker Mohamed Rashed Buali, for his project “Kombars”; Saudi director Haifaa Al Mansour, for her feature “Miss Camel”; and Omani filmmaker Muzna Almusafer, for “The Crown of Olives”.
The four shortlisted directors will present their projects at DIFF, where an acclaimed jury headed by Academy Award-winning actress and IWC Schaffhausen brand ambassador Cate Blanchett will determine the potential of each film project and select the winner.
Joining Cate Blanchett will be IWC CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr, DIFF Chairman Abdulhamid Juma, Tunisian actress and IWC brand ambassador Hend Sabri and DIFF Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali.
The award will be presented to the winning filmmaker at an exclusive gala event on Thursday, Dec 7, 2017, at the One&Only Royal Mirage in Dubai.
“The promotion and support of up-and-coming filmmakers and their projects is a priority of IWC Schaffhausen. We are looking forward to presenting the IWC Filmmaker Award for the sixth consecutive time at DIFF and helping to shine a light on the creativity and passion of filmmakers in the Gulf region”, explains Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen.
DIFF’s Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali commented: “Thanks to the IWC Filmmaker Award, both promising and established filmmakers have the potential to take their vision from script to screen.
The Gulf region is home to a diverse range of cultures and talented filmmakers eager to tell their stories. Our partnership with IWC Schaffhausen is vital in providing an opportunity for them on an international stage.”
The nominees and their projects:
Nayla Al Khaja: “Animal”
From pioneering Emirati director, screenwriter and producer Nayla Al Khaja comes a personal tale of the toll a tumultuous home environment can take on a fragile child. “Animal” is set in Al Matina, an old neighbourhood of Dubai, where an upper middle class household is ruled by its unstable and cruel patriarch. Following the lives of four family members – father, mother, daughter and son – and the family’s two domestic helpers, the audience quickly grasps the tempestuous mood swings the other members of the home are forced to endure, and the extreme anxiety this can create.
To escape their harsh reality, the two siblings shape a parallel world fuelled by creativity, pranks and imagination.
Each outburst from their father drives the siblings further into their own world, forcing their already distraught mother to try to take action before it’s too late.
Mohamed Rashed Buali: “Kombars”
Self-made Bahraini filmmaker and recipient of a Biennale di Venezia Golden Lion Mohamed Rashed Buali returns to the IWC Filmmaker Award with “Kombars”.
The film follows Bader, a widower in his forties who works as an office boy at a ministry and spends his spare time taking on acting jobs to earn additional income.
He lives with his father, who is in his seventies and recently married a 25-year-old expatriate woman. Bader is also looking for a new wife with the aid of a matchmaker, but the process is slow due to his limited funds.
By a stroke of luck, Bader learns that he is now the proud owner of a women’s lingerie shop, following the death of his aunt.
However, he is also given the news that his spot on the government housing benefit list, which he has been on for 15 years, will be lost as he is no longer married.
He is given one month to find a wife and marry, otherwise his spot will be gone.
Haifaa Al Mansour: “Miss Camel”
Haifaa Al Mansour is Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker and has received critical acclaim for her fearless take on taboos and controversial issues.
Her new project, “Miss Camel”, tells the story of Hayla, a blossoming Saudi teen who will do anything to escape her arranged marriage and fulfil her goal of attending art school outside of Saudi Arabia.
While scheming to make her way to the in-person interviews for the art college in a neighbouring Gulf state, Hayla makes a startling discovery at her cousin’s wedding – she can talk to animals.
Melwah, a beautiful camel that she sees every day with a cute Bedouin boy named Isa, confronts her about her plan and convinces Hayla to accompany her to the Miss Camel beauty pageant across the border. Assuming Hayla has stolen Melwah, Isa follows them on their dangerous and exciting desert trek.
Muzna Almusafer: “The Crown of Olives”
Making her return to DIFF is award-winning and Enjaaz-supported Omani filmmaker Muzna Almusafer, with her captivating feature “The Crown of Olives”.
Inspired by the sleepy city of Muscat, the story follows Reem, who arrives in the Omani capital from the olive fields of Morocco.
Reem works in a brothel as a dancer until a chance encounter with Marwa, a henna painter at her beauty salon, sees the two strike up a friendship.
Marwa invites Reem to lunch at her house where she asks her mother if Reem can stay with them. Reem moves into the Omani house shortly after, where she meets Rahma, Marwa’s younger sister.
The two immediately connect and become close friends, causing Marwa’s envy to rise.
Their friendship continues to destabilize after a double date with Marwa and her boyfriend Ismael starts a whirlwind romance between Reem and Ismael’s friend Nizar.
After Ismael informs Marwa that they can never wed, her emotional turmoil and need for revenge is suddenly aimed at Reem.