The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) started with a heavy dose of glitz and glamour at the Madinat Jumeirah. Indian actor Irrfan Khan, legendary thespian Sir Patrick Stewart, Australian actress and two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and other regional and international talents graced the red carpet. During the event, Middle East premiere of US director Scott Cooper’s violent Western Hostiles also took place which played up the underlying theme of reconciliation.
There will be a showcasing of more than 140 films from 51 countries at the 14th edition of DIFF with a heavy focus on the Middle East and North Africa, from Iran to Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.
The festival was honoured by the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
During the opening ceremony, international actors won awards that recognised achievements for outstanding contributions to cinema. The first recipient was England’s legendary talent of stage and screen Sir Patrick Stewart, for his decades-long career and iconic cinema. Reflecting on the current global scenario, Stewart said, “Not only Hollywood, but Europe and the outside world are in turmoil presently. I believe that cinema has a role to play in bringing some of that turmoil to an end.”
Indian versatile actor Irrfan Khan was also awarded at the festival for his unique character work that has made waves across Indian and global screens. Commenting on his association with cinema, he said, “Cinema has given me the strength to live in times of insecurity.”
Egyptian screenwriter Wahid Hamed was given a standing ovation for his contribution to the field of cinema.
Internationally acclaimed Australian actress and two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett added a touch of glamour to the festival. She praised the festival for celebrating “diverse voices within the region.”
Other top international and Arab talents sighted strutting down the Madinat Arena red carpet include Vanessa Williams; Bond girl Olga Kurylenko; Egypt-based Tunisian star Hend Sabry; Bollywood star Sonam Kapoor, Lebanese/Australian model Jessica Kahawaty; Lebanese TV personality Raya Abirached and Turkish TV star Tuba Buyukustun, who is known in the Arab world as Lamis.
In the festival, films will be screened over eight days at the Madinat Jumeirah Arena, Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah and VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates and THE BEACH – opposite JBR.