The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), the leading festival of its kind in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, will present its Lifetime Achievement honour to Werner Herzog, an Academy Award nominated German filmmaker, and one of the founders of the ‘New German Cinema,’ which marked the renaissance of the country’s film industry.
Herzog joins veteran Egyptian actor Gamil Rateb and Indian music composer A. R. Rahman to receive DIFF’s top honour at its eighth edition to be held from December 7 to 14, 2011. DIFF will also screen Herzog’s classic work, Fitzcarraldo; and his new film Into the Abyss.
All-around film professional, author and adventurer, Herzog has to his credit some 18 feature films, over 30 documentaries, seven short fiction, 18 opera productions and three theatre productions. In a prolific career, continuing over 45 years, Herzog has donned various roles – as director, producer, scriptwriter, actor and opera director. He is credited with being the only director in the world to have made a film on every continent.
Herzog’s seminal contribution is in helping bring about a qualitative shift to the flagging fortunes of the German film industry through the 1960s to the 1980s, when he joined like-minded directors to make compelling ‘short’ motion pictures that were appreciated by arthouse audiences. This in turn enabled the directors to receive big budget funding, and spark a revival for German cinema, without compromising on quality.
Herzog was nominated for the Academy Awards in 2009 for his documentary, Encounters at the End of the World, which presents a never-before-seen perspective of Antarctica, its people and landscape. His other notable works include Fitzcarraldo, which won him the Best Director Award at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival; Signs of Life, his first feature that won him the Silver Bear Extraordinary Prize of the Jury at Berlin Film Festival 1968; The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (Grand Prix, Cannes 1975); Woyzeck and Where the Green Ants Dream (both nominated for Palm d’Or at Cannes); the adventure movie Aguirre, the Wrath of God (nominated for César Awards); and My Best Friend (European Film Awards nomination).
Herzog is the only filmmaker in recent history to submit two films in competition at the Venice Film Festival, in 2009, for his films Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, a crime drama starring Nicholas Cage; and My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? Both films were nominated for the Festival’s ‘Golden Lion’ Award. He clinched the FIPRESCI Prize at the Venice Film Festival for his science-fiction film The Wild Blue Yonder (2005), was a ‘Golden Lion’ nominee for Scream of Stone (1991), and won the Filmcritica "Bastone Bianco" Award - Special Mention for Echoes from a Somber Empire in 1990.
An explorer, initially setting on foot at the age of 14 with the dream of travelling the world, Herzog has documented the lives of unsung people. His documentary Happy People: A Year in the Taiga presents the way of life of the indigenous tribe in Siberia; and his journey into the Chauvet Cave in France is documented in Cave of Forgotten Dreams, which premiered at Toronto Film Festival in 2010.
Voted the ‘35th Greatest Director of All Time’ by Entertainment Weekly, Herzog was nominated for an Emmy in 1999, in the ‘Outstanding Non-Fiction Special’ category for Little Dieter Needs to Fly. He was also awarded with the ‘Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary’ by the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award for his film Grizzly Man in 2005.
Abdulhamid Juma, Chairman, Dubai International Film Festival, said: “DIFF is marking the In Focus segment this year with cinema from Germany, and it is only fitting that we honour Mr Werner Herzog for our Lifetime Achievement Award. As a young boy, making films was his only dream – and he accomplished it at the age of 19, despite several odds. Since then, he has redefined the way the world perceives German cinema, stretched the possibilities of documentary filmmaking and always stood for his convictions. That is the sort of career that film enthusiasts can derive inspiration from, and we are privileged to honour Mr Herzog at DIFF.”
Werner Herzog said: “I feel greatly honoured to receive the lifetime achievement award from the Dubai International Film Festival. This sums up almost 50 years of my work as a filmmaker, but I consider it a mid-career event, in other words I am not done yet. In fact, I am planning to shoot my next film, ‘Queen of the Desert’ about the life of Gertrude Bell in the Middle East.”
Previous Lifetime Achievement honourees at DIFF include Omar Sharif, Adel Imam, Morgan Freeman, Sean Penn, Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Daoud Abdel Sayed, Youssef Chahine, Rachid Bouchareb, Souleymane Cisse, Nabil El-Maleh, Oliver Stone, Danny Glover, Terry Gilliam, Yash Chopra, and Subhash Ghai.
DIFF 2011 will screen 171 films from 56 nations representing the best of national, regional and world cinema between December 7 and 14 at the Mall of the Emirates, Madinat Jumeirah and The Walk at JBR.