Lebanon war film takes award at Dubai film festival

Sun Dec 16, 2007 5:03am EST
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By Lin Noueihed

DUBAI (Reuters) - "Under the Bombs," a movie about interfaith love during the 2006 war in Lebanon, was named best film in Dubai's awards for Arab cinema, in a year when films about conflict abounded.

Lebanon's Nada Abou Farhat also won the best actress award on Saturday for her role as Zeina, a Shi'ite Muslim divorcee who heads to southern Lebanon in the midst of the fighting to search for her son and falls in love with a Christian taxi driver.

"I felt the hatred building inside of me and I wanted to get it out ... I wanted to make something against hate," Lebanese director Philippe Aractingi told the audience on picking up his Muhr Award, shaped like a horse's head.

Both Aractingi and Abou Farhat dedicated their awards to those who died in the month-long war between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas that displaced hundreds of thousands of Lebanese and saw many of their homes destroyed.

Aractingi's last film "Bosta," Lebanon's entry for the Academy Awards foreign-language film in 2006, was a popular musical comedy and "Under the Bombs" was a surprise choice for many critics who felt it was picked for its subject matter.

"Aesthetically speaking, I thought a number of other films were better than 'Under the Bombs,' both 'Yellow House,' which took no prizes, in either Cairo or here, and the 'Secret of the Grain,"' said Beirut-based film critic Jim Quilty.

"There are two main criteria in judging a film; you can look at the topic or at more aesthetic aspects and the two films that have taken gold in Dubai for the first two years suggest the story is more important."

"The Secret of the Grain," Tunisian Abdellatif Kechiche's well-received film about reuniting family, took the bronze award this year. Nouri Bouzid's "The Making of," which centers on a film shoot in Tunisia as the Iraq war unfolds, won silver.   Continued...