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Dubai International Film Festival documentary line-up revealed

Fifteen documentary films have been shortlisted to compete for the Best Film, Special Jury Prize and Best Director awards at the Dubai International Film Festival’s (Diff) Muhr Arab Documentary competition, organisers said.

The films include Sarah Francis’ “Birds of September” with its confessional and intimate hidden camera look into the streets of Beirut. Director Zeina Daccache explores Beirut’s Baabda female prison, speaking to inmates about the imprisonment of women and the oppressive mentality that surrounds it.

From Palestine, Jinan Coulter links past and present alongside loss and hope through the stories of refugees in the West Bank with “Searching for Saris”, while “My Love Awaits Me by the Sea” mixes fantasy and reality as it follows director Mais Darwazah’s touching first trip to her homeland.

Another tale of returning home, “The Mulberry House” follows a journey taken by director Sara Ishaq back to her father’s home in Yemen after a decade-long absence; while Jehane Noujaim’s “The Square” looks at the Egyptian revolution through the lens of social media, citizen journalism and a need for freedom. “Waves” provides a unique take on the revolution by spanning five periods of director Ahmed Nour’s with the aid of voiceovers and animation.

Dalila Ennadre, recipient of the 2011 Dubai Film Connection award, returns to the festival with “Walls and People”. The documentary unravels on the streets of Casablanca where the director takes audiences inside of people’s homes to discuss everything from illegal immigration, sexuality, unemployment, and politics.

“This year’s documentaries reflect the ethos of change currently rocking the Arab world,” said the festival’s Artistic Director, Masoud Amr Allah Al Ali. “Documentary is the ideal tool to uncover the lives affected by grand historical narratives, and this year’s Muhr Arab field is packed with vivid testimony that the personal truly is political.”

The Muhr Arab Documentary winners are set to be announced at DIFF’s closing ceremony. The festival will run from December 6 to 14. Go to for more.