The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) revealed an additional eight films that will complete the Muhr Short lineup, adding to an already eclectic slate of must-see shorts that are entered into the category. Dedicated to expressing the soul of the Arab world through the medium of film, in the Muhr Short competition DIFF has curated a program that radiates talent and boasts some of the regions’ finest actors, directors, producers and writers.
Since its inception in 2006 the Muhr Short competition has quickly gained international recognition and become an exclusive platform for Arab cinema, uncovering the most inspiring, imaginative and distinctive short films from the Arab World. The competition offers the opportunity of a lifetime for one talented director as the winning short film will qualify to be considered for a world-renowned Academy Award 2017 nomination.
The first new addition to the diverse lineup is the suspenseful and dramatic ‘Five boys and a Wheel’ by the Palestinian director Said Zagha and starring Ali Suliman and Nadira Omran. Set in Aqaba, Jordan, this short follows the story of a school teacher who has to regain his young son’s confidence and admiration through a shocking act of violence.
DIFF welcomes Lebanese director Manon Nammour with her second short film ‘On the Ropes’. With performances from Georges Khabbaz, Diamand Bou Abboud, Christine Choueiri and Hassan Mrad, the gripping story reflects Lebanese society through a family whose members’ life is suspended; stuck in limbo, like everything else in the country.
Winning multiple awards across a plethora of international film festivals with his previous shorts, Tunisian director Mehdi M. Barsaoui brings his third short to DIFF. ‘We Are Just Fine Like This’ follows the distressed life of Baba Azizi, an ill old man who is carelessly passed between his children’s houses. Finding himself staying with his daughter for the umpteenth time, his stay will not be as he imagined.
World premiere of ‘The Builders’ from Egyptian director Naji Ismail, starring Mahmoud Gomaa, Khaled Al Fishawy, Saleh Abdel Latiff and Fadel Aljarhy follows lifelong friends Ibrahim and Abd Elnaeem, who move from North Egypt to Cairo to work as builders. Both sharing a small room and splitting the rent with a new joiner named Saleh who wishes to befriend them, the pair soon fight over payment disputes, which quickly escalates, as Ibrahim suddenly finds himself killing his old companion. Unable to cope with the violent episode, Saleh abandons the apartment, leaving Ibrahim by himself. Haunted by his brutal actions, Ibrahim has sinister hallucinations that Abd Elnaeem is still present in the claustrophobic room.
Egyptian animator Ahmed Roshdy collaborates with actress Tara Emad and actor Khaled Abol Naga for his latest animated film ‘The Unknown Sweet Potato Seller’, which is inspired by shocking but true events that took place during the Egyptian revolution. The drama centers around an Egyptian artist who is investigating the murder of a child who sells sweet potatoes in Tahrir Square, Downtown Cairo. Soon finding himself living a nightmare, the artist is haunted by dark, traumatizing visions which are disturbingly connected to the child’s death, until his investigation suddenly reaches an unexpected outcome.
Following the successful world premiere at Venice Film Festival, renowned Tunisian actress and director Doria Achour brings her controversial and highly acclaimed film ‘All the Rest is the Work of Man’ to DIFF’s audiences, starring Anissa Daoud and Houssin Benwarda. After crossing the Mediterranean Sea, Tunisian immigrant Aymen finally arrives in Marseille to reunite with his long-lost sister for the first time in twenty long years.
Joining the selection of thrilling titles to compete in this year’s Muhr Short lineup is Syrian director Samer Ajouri, who presents the world premiere of his latest animated short ‘The Boy and the Sea’. The story follows a young boy who draws imaginative pictures of the sea as a way of dealing with a life surrounded by the horrors of war. One day, however, drawing does not provide sufficient comfort and so in an attempt to escape the misery, he dives into the menacing, deep sea.
Rounding off the Muhr Short category is Tunisian filmmaker, author and stage director Lotfi Achour who presents his latest work ‘Law of the Lamb’, following its participation in the Short Film category at Cannes Film Festival 2016. Starring Mohamed Baha Karrouchi, Monhem Akkari and Jawhar Basti the intriguing story focuses on an old man and his grandson who are driving through the Tunisian desert in an old, rundown van whilst on their way to sell their sheep at the market. On route, they are unexpectedly stopped by the police who intimidatingly propose a strange and unusual deal to allow the pair to proceed with their journey.
Masoud Amralla Al Ali, DIFF’s Director, commented: “The renowned Muhr Short competition continues to connect audiences with a wide selection of cultural cinema and provides an opportunity for independent filmmakers to demonstrate their skills in this compelling and powerful medium. The captivating mixture of subjects in this year’s competition will surprise and enlighten audiences as the storytelling and visual effects provide a remarkable insight into the world around us.”
DIFF’s Programmer, Salah Sermini, added: “DIFF’s long-standing Muhr Short program is integral to providing a global stage for filmmakers to exhibit their individual talents. We are delighted to welcome some of the world’s most gifted, up-and-coming and established directors, producers, actors and writers from across the region to the Festival each year, with a vast array of talent to showcase at DIFF’s 13th edition.”
The 13th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival will take place from the December 7th to 14th December, 2016.