Dubai Film Festival: Leyla Bouzid’s Tunisian Film ‘As I Open My Eyes’ Wins Big
Dubai – Tunisian director Leyla Bouzid’s film “As I Open My Eyes” won the top award for fiction feature Wednesday at the Dubai International Film Festival.
When delivering the prizes, jury president Deepa Mehta pointedly made reference to the importance of politics in all worthy artistic endeavors, also acknowledging the strong presence of female filmmakers in this year’s festival — both comments especially appropriate for Leyla Bouzid, whose critically and popularly acclaimed Venice-preemed pic follows an independently-minded young woman in the final days of Tunisia’s recent Ben Ali dictatorship.
The French-Tunisian-Belgian co-production had featured in previous film festivals, including Toronto and Venice.
“I did not this prize at tall… I am very happy and proud,” Bouzid told after winning the Best Muhr Fiction Feature prize.
In total, 130 films from 60 countries, including long features, short films and documentaries, have been screened during the annual festival organized by the Gulf emirate.
A film based on the life of Palestinian Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf was also among the winners at the closing ceremony.
The Egyptian documentary “We Have Never Been Kids,” following an impoverished mother and her children in Cairo from 2003 until today, was awarded best non-fiction film as well as best director for Mahmood Soliman.
French actress Catherine Deneuve was honored at the opening of the festival last week with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The jury prize went to Algerian-French coproduction “Let Them Come,” directed by Salem Brahimi, a fiction feature that looks back at Algeria’s “dark decade” in the late 1980s and 1990s when religious extremism threatened to tear the nation apart.
Top acting kudos went to Egypt’s Menna Shalabi for “Nawara,” directed by Hala Khalil, and Tunisia’s Lotfi Abdelli for Fares Naanaa’s “Borders of Heaven.”
Closing festivities were a success despite competition from neighboring emirate Abu Dhabi, which held the regional premiere of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’, with hundreds of film fans.
The annual event, in its 12th year, was only declared a wrap following a glamorous after-party at SkyDive Dubai’s Zero Gravity, featuring a live performance from Shaggy.