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Dubai: 11th October 2015 [ PR, Dubai Post News Blog]

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has announced the first lineup for the highly anticipated Muhr Competition, showcasing the region’s pioneering Arab filmmakers. Set to take place over the course of the Festival, the prestigious Muhr Short Category will premiere 15 of the most highly-anticipated short films from the region’s best and brightest directors, some of whom will be exhibiting for the first time in a display of compelling cinema.

Since its inception in 2006 the competition has quickly gained recognition and become a pillar for Arab cinema, uncovering the most inspiring, inventive and distinctive short films from the Arab World. For budding directors the Muhr Short category provides unprecedented exposure and the opportunity of a lifetime to be recognised on the world stage with the winning short film in the competition qualifying for consideration in the 2017 Academy Awards.

The entrants that will be battling it out for this year’s prestigious ‘Muhr Awards’ include; the highly acclaimed animated short film ‘Waves ’98’ directed by Lebanese Ely Dagher, which won the Palme d’Or for Short Film at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. The film explores the filmmaker’s current relationship with his homeland, disillusioned with his life in the suburbs of segregated Beirut, Omar’s unusual discovery lures him into the depth of the city. Immersed into a world that is so close yet so isolated from his reality, he finds himself struggling to keep his attachments, his sense of home.

The dramatic world premiere ‘The Wheel’, directed by Egyptian Menna Ekram, depicts the daily lives of a struggling couple working in a circus. The couple, Hayat and Ali, hopes that the start of a new routine, fraught with danger and reliant on an unwavering trust, might re-ignite what once got them together.

Established theatre, film and television actress, Ibtissem Guerda, returns to the Festival with the world premiere of her captivating short ‘The Veil of Jealousy’. The short follows Amine, a young and devout Muslim, who is very much in love with his wife Enora. However, when Enora makes a new friend the mood changes as jealousy and doubt begin to manifest in Amine and he questions who it is that is hiding under the Burqa?

Egyptian director Shady El-Hamus prepares to take audiences at DIFF on an emotional journey in the world premiere of ‘Fairuz’, a short-film centred around Yousef, played by Mohammad Bakri, a man in his mid-60’s struggling with the harsh realities of life. The film begins on the wedding day of his only child, Fairuz, where it is revealed that she plans to move abroad with her new husband. Distraught and unable to accept the news Yousef flees the wedding and undergoes an introspective journey through a series of unexpected events.

World premiere ‘The Right Path’, from Lebanese directors Fouad Alaywan and Ovidio El Hout, follows in the footsteps of Zacharia and his family in a matter of life and death. Zacharia, a proud Lebanese Muslim prides himself on defending his country from extremists, but with his family’s safety at risk he must choose the right path to take in order to keep his family safe and defend his country.

Director Alaeddin Abou Taleb is welcomed to DIFF with his world premiere, ‘Diaspora’, an uplifting story that conveys the life-changing transformation of one wheelchair-bound man. The story depicts the life of a man who spends many years wasting away in his apartment in downtown Tunisia, subsisting via social media, until one day everything changes. On this day, the man is surprised by a job advertisement that gives him the motivation to turn his life around.

‘Kaleidoscope’ is the encapsulating biopic by Syrian artist and filmmaker Ammar Al-Beik, which marks the short’s world premiere at DIFF 2015. The feature plays out a night in his life as professional photojournalist covering the ongoing war that rages in Aleppo. The film begins as Ammar and a former mistress, Marie, return home together to spend the night; here the film focuses on the emotions of the pair as their thoughts turn to more pressing matters.

DIFF’s Artistic Director, Masoud Amralla Al Ali, spoke on the return of the competition and its perpetual growth as it continues to discover raw talent from across the region:

“Short films present a unique challenge to directors because they are produced with a limited availability of time and resources. It is for this reason the Muhr Short Competition provides an experiential kiln from which independent filmmakers can demonstrate their skill in this daring and powerful medium.  At DIFF, we are committed to supporting the film industry in the region and are proud to provide a platform by which Arab filmmakers are brought to the forefront.”

DIFF’s Programmer, Salah Sermini, commented on the vast array of talent on show at this year’s Muhr Short Competition and the abundance of breath-taking independent cinema from across the region:

“Every year DIFF welcomes up-and-coming directors from across the region for the Muhr Short Competition and every year we are astonished by the growing participation and quality of productions. The Festival presents the greatest opportunity for breakthrough directors to make themselves known and it is for this reason that the competition continues to attract a wealth of Arab talent.”

The 12th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival will run from December 9-16, 2015. Ticket packages start from just AED 275, for more information please visit: www.dubaifilmfest.com/en/page/36/ticket_packages_10_25.html

Diaspora_short still Kaleidoscope - Poster The Right Path_short still The Veil of Jealousy_short still WAVES 98_short still