Stars young and old raise curtain on Dubai International Film Festival

GMT 10:44 2015 Thursday ,10 December

Arab Today, arab today Stars young and old raise curtain on Dubai International Film Festival

Dubai International Film Festival
Dubai - The National

Stars young and old walked the red carpet at the opening of the Dubai International Film Festival on Wednesday night.

There could not have been many younger than Jacob Tremblay, 9, star of the opening night film Room about a boy and his mother who are kidnapped and trapped in a small room for five years before escaping.

Among the veterans were French star Catherine Deneuve, who will receive a lifetime achievement award along with French-Tunisian actor Sami Bouajila, Egyptian veteran Ezzat El Alayli, and legendary Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah.

Then there was Hollywood star Richard Dreyfuss, whose Jaws will teach a whole new generation of movie fans to scream when it screens at The Beach on Saturday night.

"It'll scare you as much today as it would have 40 years ago. It's a brilliant film but it is not my career's best,” Dreyfuss told the gathered fans, without sharing what his highlight was.

Jaws did have its effects on the 68-year-old actor. "You won't see me swimming.”

Other notables wearing down the pile were Dev Patel, who started his career with Slumdog Millionaire but is in town to promote The Man who Knew Infinity, about Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. US star Michael B Jordan also attended the event.

The annual celebration of film, which runs until December 16, has become one of the most prestigious in the world.

Diff chairman Abdulhamid Juma was first out to speak to the crowds lining what he says is one of the longest red carpets in the world.

"We have more than 150 Arab stars, and a lot of stars coming from everywhere,” Mr Juma said. "But as I always say, our stars are really our films and the people who made those films.”

Patel, whose film is having its regional premiere, drew loud cheers from his many fans lining the carpet and taking selfies with the British star.

"He is a man from the middle of India who got plucked out of obscurity and became one of the world's greatest mathematical geniuses,” he said of Ramanujan. "It's the story of triumph and hope against adversity.

"With this film, I want to breathe life into people who look like me. It's a big deal. There's not that much diversity on the screen right now, but I think people out here can really respond to this man because he faced a lot of prejudice.

"I really want to spread the work about Ramanujan and his great legacy.”

Deneuve said she had mixed feelings about the lifetime achievement award: "A lifetime achievement award is something very dangerous and pleasant at the same time. I don't like to look back much on my own career. I'm very busy working.”

Tunisian actress Hend Sabry, who is on the jury of the festival's IWC Filmmaker Award, to be presented on Friday, said she had been busy reading scripts from around the Gulf to decide who won the US$100,000 (Dh367,000) prize to turn their script into reality.

"I see many Emirati directors are taking their films forward,” Sabry said. "I think we are becoming really local in the stories which we're choosing and I like that. We're looking inwards into ourselves but also directing our stories to a western audience.”

Now in its 12th year, the festival is proudly screening a record high 12 Emirati films among the 134 films from 60 countries – including 55 world premieres.

They will be screened at cinemas in Madinat Jumeirah and Mall of the Emirates, along with free screenings at The Beach.

Tickets for the Dubai International Film Festival can be bought


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