Irrfan Khan won the Best Actor Award for The Lunchbox here at the 10th Dubai International Film Festival. However, the movie could not win the Best Picture Prize; it competed in the Muhr Asia-Africa Feature Category. Singapore’s Ilo Ilo – the story of a Filipina maid – bagged this award, while its star, Yeo Yann Yann, took the Best Actress Award.
The Palestinian work, Omar, won the top Muhr Arab Feature Prize. Omar, not only opened the current 10th edition of the Festival, but also played at Cannes in May and Toronto in September. Dubai’s gesture to start the Festival with a Palestinian work was highly appreciated in the Arab world, given the sympathy the “nation” has here.
Interestingly, the movie – a thriller that talks about the relationship between a young Palestinian and a hardcore Israeli agent (but with a softer side to him) – won another accolade for its director, Hany Abu Assad. He was adjudged the best helmer. Omar is also Palestine’s submission for the Foreign Language Oscar.
“It’s an honour to inaugurate the Festival with an Arab film. We wouldn’t have completed the movie without the support of Enjaaz [Festival’s post-production and production funding support programme]. This is like being given a tribute given by my own family,” said Assad.
In the same category, Yasmine Raees won Best Actress Award for the buzz-worthy Egyptian movie, Factory Girl – a work about the nation’s stifling social mores.
Hassan Badid was declared Best Actor for his performance in Morocco’s They are the Dogs.
Among documentaries, it was a big day for Egyptian filmmakers: Salma El Tarzi bagged the Best Director Trophy for Underground on the Surface, while the Best Documentary spot was filled by Karim Amer’s The Square.
Jim Sheridan, a jury president and six-time Academy Award nominee, said he was pleased with the diversity of Arab films that he wished “everybody could see”, and praised the overall Dubai experience. “It’s been spectacular here...I feel privileged to see through a window into a culture that seems open to me, and open to the world,” he said.
The Festival’s 10th edition closes tonight with David O Russell’s American Hustle.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is covering the Dubai International Film Festival)