The renowned Dubai International Film Festival’s ‘Muhr Short’ program is returning to reveal the most recent in Arab cinema. Taking place between the December 7th and 14th, 2016, the Festival will exhibit an exclusive selection of fiction and non-fiction shorts that showcase the cultural depth and breadth from across the Arab world. Since its launch in 2006, the highly recognized category takes pride in providing a platform to unearth the best in Arab cinema and help discover and nurture burgeoning talent from within the region.
Exploring work from newly emerging talent makes this competitive category the ultimate stage for aspiring directors, some of whom will be first time entrants in this eye-opening parade of influential cinema. In addition to the vast exposure gained by the shortlisted directors, the Muhr awards provide an invaluable chance of global introduction with the winning short film qualifying for consideration for an Academy Award 2017 nomination.
With the interest of nurturing the growth of the film industry, this year’s prestigious Muhr awards will display fifteen of the most impressive films from the very best in directorial talent, seven of which will be announced in this release. The competition is set to be tough as the filmmakers have cleverly constructed their short films to provide a thrilling cinematic experience, striving to obtain the sought after award.
Among the line-up of this year’s influential directors is Lebanese writer and director Mounia Akl, whose latest film ‘Submarine’ has already been credited after its much anticipated premiere at the highly acclaimed Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Set in Lebanon, ‘Submarine’ is a thrilling watch that offers audiences a touching and current story. As the horrifying garbage crisis is threatening health in the capital, evacuation is the only option for residents. Faced with dilemma, Hala is the only individual who refuses to flee her home, which is drowning in rubbish. However, her strength is questioned when she is soon confronted by the fear of loneliness and abandonment.
As one of four collaborations from Syrian filmmaker’s Rana Kazkaz and Anas Khalaf, ‘Mare Nostrum’ makes for a poignant, gripping film. At the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, a Syrian father is faced with a devastating situation that risks the precious life of his beloved daughter. The moving tale is delivered by outstanding performances from cast Ziad Bakri and ingénue Zayn Khalaf.
Palestinian Danish filmmaker Mahdi Fleifel joins the lineup with a captivating short drawing on his Palestinian heritage, ‘A Man Returned’. After three prolonged years trapped in Greece, Reda returns to his home with a heroin addiction and changed personality, courtesy of his time within a Palestinian refugee camp. Now at the age of 26, Reda’s hopes of successfully breaking away from the camp fail as the Syrian war is imposing on his world. Trying to escaping this bitter reality, he decides to marry his lifelong companion though the result may not be the happiness he so craves.
Joining Fleifel is talented filmmaker Ahmad Saleh, renowned for bringing to screen the stories current media never tell. After moving from Europe to the Middle East, the contrasting injustice he was witnessing lead him to fight for change by creating film to spread messages. The winner of the 2016 Student Academy Awards competition in the Animation category, ‘Ayny’ joins the lineup. The film concentrates on the dangers of war as seen through the eyes of two young boys who share a love for music.
A world premiere at DIFF 2016, ‘The Parrot’, from Jordanian directors Amjad Al -Rasheed and Darin J. Salam, starring Hend Sabry and Ashraf Barhoum, is a unique tale of a Mizrahi Jewish family. Winner of the Robert Bosch Stiftung’s 2015 Film Prize for Short Fiction Film, ‘The Parrot’ follows the family’s move from Tunisia to Palestine shortly after the declaration of the state of Israel in 1948. Shocked by the visible flurry with which the prior Palestinian occupants of their new home must have departed, the family discovers the most haunting leftover – Saeed, a large talking parrot who’s original and detailed stories about the prior family lead to grim discoveries.
From acclaimed Moroccan director Karima Zoubir, comes her world premiere ‘Behind The Wall’ which will take audiences on an emotive journey following Nadia, a five year-old girl, who lives in the slums of Casablanca. Her home is surrounded by a wall that separates it from the rest of the city. One day, Nadia notices an unusual activity as municipality workers put down their tools and start painting the wall. What is this sudden interest in the wall and what does it mean?
Sudanese filmmaker and scriptwriter Marwa Zein brings her seventh short film enjoying its world premiere ‘One Week, Two Days’ to DIFF starring Yasmin Raeis and Amr Saleh.
The film follows a loving couple who are experiencing the highs and lows of trying to conceive a baby, the feelings of doubt and the big decision that requires couples to do some serious self-reflecting and communicating.
Masoud Amralla, DIFF’s Artistic Director, commented on the 2016 lineup: “The films selected for ‘Muhr Short’ category are an exceptional collection of contemporary cinema which grant a true audience experience by entering into the Arab world and capturing the essence of its dynamic community. This is an especially important time for Arab cinema as a new generation of filmmakers has emerged, and it remains imperative for DIFF to continue its aim to provide a platform for burgeoning talent across the region. I want to give praise to the brilliant directors who are working hard to obtain high standards and gain international recognition for films originating from the United Arab Emirates and Arab world.”
DIFF’s programmer, Salah Sermini, added: “As a hub for thriving film culture within the region and internationally, DIFF is an exciting destination for industry professionals, filmmakers and all lovers of cinema. This year’s high competition mirrors the strength of regional talent as Muhr’s interesting shorts expose audience members to an array of stimulating and insightful stories.”