North African cinema was the big winner as the 5th Dubai Film Fest wrapped Thursday, with Franco-Algerian co-production “Masquerades” winning the Muhr Award for film.Lyes Salem’s pic, about an Algerian man who tries to marry off his narcoleptic sister, also won the fest’s inaugural Fipresci prize.
Another Franco-Algerian co-production, helmer Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche’s “Adhen-Dernier Maquis,” won the special jury prize, and laurels for editor and composer. Pic is about a group of immigrant workers in a Paris suburb who protest when their boss attempts to build an on-site mosque.
Moroccan helmer Nour-Eddine Lakhmari’s “Casanegra” won the actor prize — shared between Anas Elbaz and Omar Lotfi — and best cinematographer. French-Algerian thesp Hafsia Herzi picked up the best actress award for her turn in Moroccan director Souad El-Bouhati’s debut feature “Francaise.”
Palestinian helmer Annemarie Jacir won the script prize for her debut feature “Salt of This Sea.”
Fest expanded the Muhr awards section for Asian and African cinema. Korean helmer So Yong Kim won the film prize in that category for “Treeless Mountain.”
Fest co-production market, the Dubai Film Connection, selected its six projects out of 21 entries, with more than $100,000 in development coin doled out. Three projects received $25,000 each: Jordanian helmer Mahmoud al-Massad’s “This Is My Picture When I’m Dead,” Lebanese helmer Chadi Zeneddine’s “Barbershop Trinity” and Algerian helmer Djamila Sahraoui’s “Ouardia Once Had Sons.”
Fest wrapped Thursday with attendees calling the week-long event a success. Though there was a noticeably less glitzy feel to the 5th edition, fest boasted strong industry presence from the Middle East, Europe and the U.S. The inaugural Dubai Film Market received a thumbs-up from buyers and sellers for its user-friendliness, while the Dubai Film Connection increased the number of projects and coin it handed out.