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Four Gulf talents shortlisted for 2017 IWC Filmmaker Award

Thu, Nov. 2, 2017
CAIRO – 2 November 2017: The Dubai International Film Festival and German Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen have come together to reveal the four Gulf filmmakers shortlisted for the sixth edition of the IWC Filmmaker Award.

The four Fulf filmmakers will be judged by the IWC’s ambassador, Cate Blanchett, who will view each film project and select the winner on December 7. The lucky one will be awarded a prize of $100,000. The nominees are Omani filmmaker Muzna Almusafer for “The Crown of Olives”, Bahraini filmmaker Mohamed Rashed Buali for "Kombars", the UAE’s Nayla Al Khaja for “Animal” and lastly Saudi Haifaa Al Mansour for “Miss Camel”.
Almusafer hails from Muscat, Oman and won the student prize at the 2010 Gulf Film Festival for her short film “Niqab”. Her next film, “Cholo”, in 2013 won the Best Script Prize at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. She would later help produce two documentaries, “Pashk” and “The Goats of Dana”. Last year, Almufaser was part of the Amman Project Market's Robert Bosch Foundation with her film “Clouds”.

Her IWC-nominated film, "The Crown of Olives”, is a story about a girl named Reem, who moves to Oman’s capital after working in Morocco’s olive fields. She works as a dancer in a brothel and meets a henna painter named Marwa, who starts off friendly with her. Things begin to go south after Reem begins attracting attention that Marwa always wanted, and their friendship ends in disaster after Marwa’s boyfriend breaks up with her, leading to revenge aimed at Reem.

Haifaa Al-Mansour is Saudia Arabia’s first female filmmaker, and she has helped open the doors for Saudi women to enter the world of cinema with their own movies. Her 2005 documentary “Women in Shadows” was critically acclaimed internationally. However, Haifaa is more controversial within her own country due to her staunch criticism of the nation’s traditional culture.

She enters the IWC Filmmaker Award with “Miss Camel”, which follows Hayla, a creative and young Saudi woman who yearns to escape an arranged marriage and go to art school. Her life takes an even stranger direction when she discovers that she can talk to animals, which leads to her stealing a camel named Melwah and leading her off to the Miss Camel beauty pageant.

Bahrain’s Mohamed Rashed Buali is a prolific short film director who has thus far produced eight films that have been featured in international film festivals. He has won various awards, including La Biennale di Venezia’s Golden Lion for 12th International Architecture Exhibition. His nominated film “Kombars” is a story about a widower, Bader, who through a strange turn of fate, finds himself owning a woman’s lingerie shop. However, Bader is told that unless he finds a wife within a month, his spot on the government housing benefit list will be gone.

Last up is the UAE’s first female director/producer, Nayla Al Khaja, who in 2007 founded the The Scene Club, Dubai’s first film club. She is CEO of her own company, Nayla Al Khaja Films, and has won several awards, including “Best Emirati Filmmaker” in 2006 at the DIFF. Her two short films “Malal” (2010) and “The Neighbor” (2013) received the DIFF’s Muhr Emirati Award and the Best Emirati Film award at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Film Festival, respectively.

Her nominated film, “The Animal”, is set in an old neighborhood in Dubai and follows two children who escape the tyranny of their abusive father by retreating into a world of fun and fantasy. As their abuse grows more severe than their fantasy world, it’s up to their mother to find a way to save them.
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