Saturday , November 18 2017

DIFF to showcase regional creativity – Dubai fest to honor Egyptian writer Hamed

DUBAI, Oct 23: The innovative Muhr Gulf Short section returns to the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) with a diverse selection of creative short films from across the region, providing a crucial opportunity for filmmakers to premiere their unique projects on the world stage. The 2017 lineup of inspiring short films each tell an original story set to thrill audiences and provide unique insights into the region. Known for its diverse and captivating lineup, the Muhr Gulf Short category continues to serve as a catalyst for growing cinematic talent across the GCC.

Confirmed to feature in the Muhr Gulf Short section of DIFF is ‘Asiya’, from Omani filmmaker Mohammed Alharthy, which follows an Omani teenager who falls for an Indian actress named Asyia. He tries repeatedly to sneak in to the cinema to see her film, but is thrown out by the guard at each attempt as he is too young. Still, Asiya continues to visit his dreams until he makes an unexpected discovery.

From Saudi Arabia, Hajar Alnaim brings fresh talent to the fore with her post-graduation story, ‘Detained’. The short tells of a young Syrian refugee that is detained by US Homeland Security after her father’s suicide bombing of an international airport. The audience is torn between truth and assumption as she struggles to prove her innocence.

Self-taught, independent filmmaker Malik Maliki makes his debut at DIFF with his third short film ‘Lost Piece’. The Iraqi-born filmmaker follows a man and woman as they contemplate life and search for infinity and perfection. The question is, how far they are willing to go to find it?

‘Our Neighbor Bu Hamad’ is the first short brought to DIFF by Kuwaiti filmmaker Mishal Alhulail. The film tells the story of Khaled, a man in his twenties who starts investigating strange noises coming from his neighbor’s, Bu Hamad’s, house. His curiosity leads to an unexpected discovery he may not be ready to face.

From Saudi Arabian brothers Talha B. and Maan Binabdulrahman comes the short story ‘The Scapegoat’ centred on Paul Dugan, a former successful writer in search of his next best-selling novel. Feeling the pressure to live up to his earlier success, he shelters himself in an isolated cabin in the woods to confront his internal demons.

Danish-Jordanian filmmaker Ulaa Salim returns to DIFF this year with his captivating short ‘Fædreland (Land of Our Fathers)’, telling the story of a broken father-son relationship. After an unsuccessful life in Denmark, featuring a divorce and distant relationship with his son, Hassan decided to move back to his native Jordan. Once there, he gets a visit from his son under the pretext that Hassan will return with him to Denmark. This visit is Hassan’s last hope of reconciliation.

Promises

From Dubai-based Bahraini storyteller, Ahmed Al Kuwaiti, comes ‘A Time to Pray’, which promises to take DIFF audiences through the internal conflict of universal morals and religious conformation. A young Emirati woman goes on trip with her pregnant Egyptian friend. After their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, they seek help from the only nearby source – a mosque.

Making his first appearance at DIFF is Kurdish actor, writer and director Mohammed Sherwani with ‘Duaa’. The short follows the young woman’s father, who visits the university where his daughter Duaa is meant to begin her degree in Islamic studies. After initial confusion from the staff, he then learns that Duaa has instead applied and been accepted to a course in fine arts and sculpture. He now must decide if he should let her pursue her dreams of becoming an artist or follow the path assigned to her.

DIFF’s Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali commented: “The Muhr Gulf Short category continues to grow and is receiving recognition as an excellent platform for regional filmmakers to showcase their craft and talents to an international audience. Short film is a unique craft amongst the film industry, and we’re thrilled to bring the latest creative projects from filmmakers around the region to the Festival. DIFF audiences can explore cultural nuances, current and international themes and, above all, captivating storytelling with this year’s lineup.”

DIFF’s Programmer, Salah Sermini added: “Producing a short film is always a challenge even for the most experienced and talented director and each year we look for the best and brightest talent from the Gulf to be a part of the Muhr Gulf Short category. Our 2017 lineup is no different and we cannot wait for audiences and industry alike to experience the unique talent produced right here in the region.”

Registration is now open for media, industry professionals and the public for the 14th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival which will take place from the Dec 6-13, 2017. Please visit www.diff.ae for more information.

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has confirmed that this year’s Arab Lifetime Achievement Award will recognize the illustrious Egyptian writer Wahid Hamed, celebrating his achievements in screenwriting and outstanding contributions to the industry. One of Egypt’s most acclaimed writers with a career that spans four decades, Hamed has an impressive list of credits to his name. Hamed is set to receive the award at the Festival’s 14th edition, running from Dec 6-13, 2017.

Wahid Hamed is renowned for his diverse work and extensive contribution to Egyptian cinema and television. An Egyptian native from the governate of Sharqia, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology before starting his career with drama work in the late 1960s. His breakthrough came in the television series ‘Dreams of the Fly Boy’ (1978), which started his longtime collaboration with distinguished actor Adel Imam. Iconic work was created when the pair came together, including ‘Al Erhab wel Kabab’ (1992), a black comedy about government corruption and the working class of Egypt, as well as ‘Al Ghoul’ (1983) and ‘Toyour El Zalam’ (1995), which focused on political corruption and the Muslim brotherhood’s dogma in Egypt.

The two also partnered on the critically-acclaimed and issue-tackling ‘The Yacoubian Building’ (2006), which saw Hamed’s son, Marwan, take the director’s chair.

With almost 40 films and countless television titles to his name, Hamed has worked alongside many esteemed Egyptian directors, including Yousry Nasrallah, Atef El Tayeb and Sherif Arafa, among others. Known for his daring themes in the face of controversy, Hamed’s own work has overcome difficulty to reach the silver screen. Written in the mid-80s, the touching and renowned drama ‘Al Baree’ (1997) faced a lengthy censorship battle, due to its controversial political messages. It was not released until 19 years post its production and only after the ending was changed. Hamed decided to establish his own production company, Wahid Hamed Film Productions, to help bring his and others’ work to the big and small screen.

Hamed also worked on the famed political comedy ‘Ma’ali Al-Wazeer’ (2002), which again featured his unique take on government corruption. He has received critical acclaim and a bevy of awards across countless film festivals, most notably for his films ‘El Le’eb Maa El Kobar’ (1991), ‘Ehky ya Scheherazade’ (2009) and ‘Ot W Far’ (2015). His last television series ‘Al Gama’a’ (‘The Brotherhood’) (2010) and ‘Return of Al Gama’a’ (2017) tackled the history of Imam Hassan Al Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, and its impact across Egypt.

DIFF’s Chairman, Abdulhamid Juma commented: “The longevity and diversity of Wahid Hamed’s career is testament not only to his great talent, but also to the importance of talented writers to the industry. Screenwriting is a unique art that is the backbone of any story, without which directors could not build a compelling and impactful tale. We are delighted to welcome Hamed to Dubai to honour his talents with the Arab Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Hamed expressed his gratitude upon receiving the news of the recognition, and said: “I am very touched to receive this prestigious award from the Dubai International Film Festival and look forward to accepting the award in person in Dubai this December.”

DIFF’s Lifetime Achievement Awards are dedicated to honoring the world’s greatest film industry actors, writers, directors and producers. Previous honorees include Gabriel Yared, Samuel L Jackson, Sami Bouajila, Omar Sharif, Faten Hamamah, Adel Imam, Jameel Rateb, Sabah, Morgan Freeman, Sean Penn, Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Daoud Abdel Sayed, Youssef Chahine, Rachid Bouchareb, Souleymane Cisse, Nabil El-Maleh, Oliver Stone, Danny Glover, Terry Gilliam, Yash Chopra, Subhash Ghai, Michael Apted, and Mahmoud Abdel Aziz.

Registration is now open for media, industry professionals and the public for the 14th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival, which will take place from Dec 6-13, 2017. Please visit www.diff.ae for more information.

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