Celebs & Events

Dubai International Film Festival 2014 (DIFF) opens

Dubai International Film Festival 2014 (DIFF) opens

Emirati, regional and international stars lit up the red carpet on Wednesday night as the 11th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival (Diff) opened at Madinat Arena. The festival’s Muhr Awards jury head, US director Lee Daniels, along with his jurors, Lebanese actress-director Nadine Labaki and US actress Virginia Madsen, were among the black-tie-clad VIPs who watched the festival’s opening film, the Stephen Hawking biopic, The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.

Indian singing legend Asha Bhosle, 81, was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the opening ceremony before the film. Bhosle, who has recorded more than 12,000 songs for more than 850 films in a career spanning seven decades, also owns the Asha’s chain of restaurants in Dubai. She spoke briefly, to says she was happy to be in Dubai and get the award. As for more restaurants? “You’ll have to speak to my son.”

The second Lifetime Achievement Award recipient was Egyptian actor Nour Al Sharif. The 68-year-old is a staple of Egyptian television and cinema with a resume that dates back to the mid-’60s. He walked the red carpet with his Cairo Time co-star Mervat Amin. The film screens as part of the festival on December 15 and December 17

The opening ceremony was compered by Emirati filmmaker Nayla Al Khaja and animator Mohammad Saeed Harib, whose Freej fame. He designed the Diff logo 11 years ago. She reminded the audience that short films that win at Diff’s awards can be sent for consideration to the Academy Awards — the only Arab film festival that can do so.

For Emirati director Ali Mustafa, life came full circle at Diff, which will screen his second feature, From A to B, in a unique union between the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, which funded and premiered the film. His first film, City of Life, was funded by Diff and premiered there in 2009. “The reception [to From A to B] in Abu Dhabi was overwhelming. I hope the reaction in Dubai is similar,” he said on the red carpet.