Lifetime award for African director

Dubai rewards controversial Cisse for his 'inspiring work' and being at the forefront of renaissance in African cinema.

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DUBAI // An African film director whose work was banned in his home country and who was jailed for making the controversial films is to receive a lifetime achievement award at Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) next month.

Souleymane Cissé, from Mali, will be in Dubai to collect his award and to host the screening of two of his films: Waati (Time), the story of a young girl who flees apartheid South Africa and Min Ye (Tell Me Who You Are), a family story of tension, boredom and marital imbalance set in Mali.

Early on in his career Cissé's film Den Muso (The Girl), about an illegitimate pregnancy, was banned by the Malian Minister of Culture in 1974. He was arrested and jailed but it only served to fuel his determination to make powerful films addressing social and political issues in Africa.

Abdulhamid Juma, the chairman of DIFF, said Cissé had always been at the "forefront of the renaissance of African cinema", hence the decision to give him the award.

He said the lifetime achievement award was "a recognition for the commendable and inspiring work undertaken by the director".

Every year at DIFF, African filmmakers are honoured in a competition called the Muhr AsiaAfrica Awards. These are cash prizes for the best in cinema from Asia and Africa in features, documentaries and short film. DIFF also presents Muhr Arab awards and, new this year, Muhr Emirati awards.

The total prize money for the Muhr awards is US$600,000 Dh2.2m).

DIFF 2010 will be held from December 12 to 19 in the Madinat Jumeirah.