The 9th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) opened here Sunday night with a gala evening screening of the Ang Lee-directed movie "Life of Pi."
The eight-day DIFF was inaugurated in Dubai's luxury resort Madinat Jumeirah by Sheikh Majid Al-Maktoum, chairman of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, and in the presence of a members of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government.
Also starring on the red carpet in the luxury resort Madinat Jumeirah was Australian actress Cate Blanchett who became famous for her leading role in "Elizabeth I of England" and who arrived for attending the gala screening of "Life of Pi", the fantasy movie produced by academy award-winning, American-Chinese director Ang Lee.
The 3D multi-dimensional film "Life of Pi", which features an Indian boy who survives a natural disaster on a boat together with a Bengal tiger, is the opening film of the DIFF which screens 158 movies from over 60 countries in 43 languages.
Present were also the three Indian stars of the movie Suraj Sharma (who plays Pi), Ms. Shravanthi Sainath and Adil Hussain. Sainath said in an interview with TV channel Dubai One that it was a great adventure to act in a movie directed by such a great director like Ang Lee.
The eight-day DIFF will run through Dec. 16 and will also feature Hitchcock with Hollywood stars Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren who play the legendary film director of thrillers and his wife. Also in 3D will be shown "Le Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away," a fantasy story with actors from the world-famous circus from Montreal, Canada. The film features a separated couple that has to go through an artistic and magical journey to find each other again.
The Chinese movie "1942," directed by Feng Xiaogang, deals with the horrors of the Japanese occupation of China's Henan province during World War II.
As always, this year's DIFF also promotes Arab movies under the label Muhr Arab competition. Since the foundation of the DIFF in 2006, 227 films have been screened under the Muhr scheme. This year's noteworthy movies are "Al Sherka" (The Scream) from Khadija Al-Salami, featuring the role of Arab women in Yemen during the Arab turmoil and "Layali Bala Noom" or "Sleepless Nights," a joint Arab-French production showing the tragic impact on Lebanese society during the 15-year civil war from 1975 to 1990.
According to Abdulhamid Juma, chairman of DIFF, film productions increased by 8 percent year in year in 2011 and the emirate aims to grab a growing share of the global film industry which is valued at 622 billion U.S. dollars.