The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has unveiled the first wave of films, including multiple world premieres, for the Muhr Feature programme.
The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has unveiled the first wave of films, including multiple world premieres, for the Muhr Feature programme. Showcasing work from some the regions most talented directors, whose films celebrate and explore the traditions and diverse contemporary culture of the intricate Arab world with passion, depth and empathy.
The first feature to be showcased in the varied category comes from Tunisian director Raja Amari who guides the audience through an intense series of events with Foreign Body, starring Hiam Abbass and Sara Hanashy.
Following the success of his first feature film Narcissus Blossom, Iraqi director, Hussein Hassan throws his heart and soul into the emotional story of The Dark Wind.
Following its premiere in Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival critically acclaimed director Vatche Boulghourjian brings his Lebanese drama Tramontane, starring Barakat Jabbour, Julia Kassar and supported by Enjaaz from Dubai Film Market. The compelling film looks at the intricate relationship of Lebanese citizens with their country. Viewers are confronted with a series of deep emotions as the heartfelt tale follows the journey of blind musician Rabih, who encounters marginalised citizens sharing their stories, as he ventures across rural Lebanon in an intense search for his true identity.
After showcasing in the 11th edition with the notable premiere of No Exit, Palestinian filmmaker, Mohanad Yaqubi, returns to DIFF to showcase his latest non-fiction film Off Frame AKA Revolution Until Victory. Bidding to untangle the fraught history of his homeland, Yaqubi reflects the struggles faced by the states people. Drawing from recently found archive footage Yaqubi insightfully explores the essence of Palestinian filmmaking.
DIFF welcomes Lebanese filmmaker Maher Abi Samra with the insightful screening of A Maid For Each. With a bustling market for domestic work in Lebanon, workers are deprived of basic rights and face multiple struggles in a system of full custodianship. A Maid For Each diligently observes the day to day functions of an active agency, capturing the truth of this domineering industry. The components of this state-sanctioned system come undone methodically throughout the film as the audience is exposed to the employees harsh entitlements, the agents dexterity at commerce and the objectification of women who sell their labour in order to survive.
Cairene filmmaker Iman Kamel’s hybrid film Egyptian Jeanne dArc melds documentary with mythic story elements, poetic narration, interviews and dance to convey intimate, true stories of resistance by Egyptian women, since the 2011 revolution. After returning to her homeland, the director highlights the issues of the oppression faced by Egyptian women, most of whom are artists, in Egypt today through her film.
DIFF will also host the world premiere of Ali, the Goat, and Ibrahim from award-winning Egyptian filmmaker Sherif El Bendary, supported by Dubai Film Markets Enjaaz programme. Starring Ali Sobhy, Ahmed Magdy and Nahed El Sebai, the touching story follows Ali, who after refusing to accept the death of his beloved girlfriend, believes her soul has been reincarnated in the form of a goat.Elsewhere, Ibrahim is followed by haunting voices which control his world. With both young men marginalised and misunderstood by society, they encounter one another and embark on a cleansing journey. As their friendship grows, they realise they can find strength from within each other and embrace their differences.
Awaited world premiere of Little Eagles from Egyptian director Mohamed Rashad documents a story influenced by the damaging relationship with his working class father. Spending his life living with the confidence-crushing knowledge that his father is disappointed with the outcome of his son, Rashad meets two people who, like him, lack self-assurance due to a degrading family member. Delving into the history of their relatives, Rashad searches for reasoning in an attempt to free the group from their tormented past relationships.
DIFFs Artistic Director, Masoud Amralla Al Ali spoke about the array of Arab talent in the programme: Since the inception of Muhr Feature in 2006, with each passing year, the competition grows fiercer, as the inspiring directors never fail to impress DIFFs audiences. This year promises a line-up which truly delves into the regions rich traditions and history to share unique perspectives in the international spotlight, helping to alter predetermined consumptions of the Arab world, and aiding the rise of cinema within the region.
Antoine Khalife, Director of the Arab Programme, added: We are excited to present the highly acclaimed Muhr Feature category which draws on traditional and cultural themes. This years impressive creations grasp the true concept of life in the Middle East as the Arab filmmakers deeply explore the issues they have faced with marginalisation, immigration, identity and self-assurance which promises to leave a lasting impression on audiences.