Sahim Omar Kalifa’s ‘Zagros’. Image Credit: DIFF

Dubai International Film Festival (Diff) has unveiled the line-up for the Feature category of its Muhr competition. The Muhr Awards highlight regional talents whose work explore the traditions and culture of the Arab world.

The first feature film shortlisted comes from Algerian filmmaker Yasmine Chouikh, who brings the world premiere of her first feature, Until the End of Time. The film supported by Enjaaz, Diff’s post-production programme, tells the story of the Ziara, a time of year when families visit their dead.

Egyptian filmmaker Hala Al Koussy presents Cactus Flower, also supported by Enjaaz. The film follows the journey and personal struggles of three Egyptians. Aida, a struggling actress who came to Cairo from the Delta, is kicked out on the street on the same night as her neighbour, Samiha, a fading bourgeois beauty. With no money and nowhere to go, the two women, aided by Yassin, a street-savvy youth, form an unlikely friendship. Together they embark on a journey through a mentally and physically difficult terrain.

Returning to Diff this year is acclaimed Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch with his feature film Razzia, Morocco’s candidate in the foreign-language category of the 2018 Academy Awards. Razzia follows five characters on the streets of Casablanca, whose lives interfere and collide into one. Spanning different decades and several storylines, the film weaves an intricate tale of lost loves, forbidden desires, and fragile dreams in modern day Morocco.

Joining Ayouch are internationally acclaimed director Annemarie Jacir with Wajib; Lebanese director Lucien Bourjeily’s Heaven without People;

Syrian filmmaker Feras Fayyad’s Last Men in Aleppo; Lebanese filmmaker Rana Eid’s Panoptic; Iraqi filmmaker Mohammad Jabrah Al Daradji’s The Journey; and award-winning Kurdish director Sahim Omar Kalifa with Zagros.

Diff runs from December 6 to 13. For a full schedule, go to