A beaming Abdullah Boushahri took home the big win last night, with a $100,000 grant when his film, ‘The Water’, won the IWC Filmmaker Award at the Dubai International Film Festival (Diff).
However, all eyes were also on IWC Jury member Emily Blunt, who stunned in an emerald green gown; the ‘Into The Woods’ actress also won her Golden Globes nomination for the film, which is being screened as Diff’s closing gala.
Speaking on the red carpet prior to the gala dinner at the One&Only Royal Mirage resort, Blunt told the waiting press about the winning film choice, saying: “'We chose the project that stood out from the crowd – I’m sure we made the right decision.”
Kuwaiti director and producer Boushahri has previously produced the feature length film ‘Losing Ahmad’, which had its world premiere at Diff in 2006, going on to win the Best Documentary in the Gulf at the Emirates Film Competition 2007 and touring more than 30 international film festivals around the world.
Now in its third year, Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen, Official Sponsor and ‘Festival-Time’ Partner of Diff, hosts this award to select the winning artist from an impressive array of talented filmmakers from the GCC states.
Blunt was joined her fellow jury members, Georges Kern, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen, Abdulhamid Juma, Chairman of DIFF, and Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Artistic Director of DIFF.
The award ceremony was followed by a private concert by Aloe Blacc to celebrate the evening.
Earlier, Georges Kern, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen, stated: “The IWC Filmmaker Award allows us to bring to life unique stories from the Arab world, giving an insightful glimpse into these intricate and diverse societies. The region is brimming with talented filmmakers, and we are honoured to be able to support their dreams and aspirations, propelling Arab cinema onto the international stage.”
Abdulhamid Juma, Diff Chairman, said: “Both new cinematic voices and established directors from the Arab world bring to light fresh perspectives and ideas, continuously pushing the envelope.”
The other two shortlisted projects included Saeed Salmeen Al-Murry’s ‘Going to Heaven’ and Ahd Kamel’s ‘Sandfish’.
Emirati filmmaker Al-Murry has directed a number of acclaimed films, including ‘Bint Mariam’ (2008), which won both regional and international awards, including Best Emirati Filmmaker at Diff in 2008.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian filmmaker and actress Ahd Kamel is best known for her starring role in the award-winning Saudi Arabian feature film ‘Wadjda’.
Her second directorial short, ‘La Sainteté’ (2013), in which she also starred, received a Golden Bear nomination at the Berlinale and won the Golden Aleph at the Beirut International Film Festival.
Last year, UAE director Waleed Al-Shehhi received the IWC Filmmaker Award from head juror Cate Blanchett for his project ‘Dolphins’, which is screening at Diff this year.