Dubai International Film Festival 2012: Opening Ceremony
Posted on Monday December 10, 2012, 14:26 by Simon Braund in Under The Radar
Were you to travel to the Dubai International Film Festival on Emirates Airlines, one of its principal sponsors, you could be forgiven for thinking you’s seen enough movies for a while. For anyone who remembers the heady early days of Virgin Atlantic and the thrill of an actual choice of movies (plus seat-back screens, the size of a cigarette packet though they were), Emirates’ profusion of cinematic delights will rock your world. The screens are huge, even in Economy, and the selection is mind-boggling - literally hundreds of films, from classics, world cinema and Bollywood to over eighty new releases. You can programme your own personal film festival before you even get to Dubai.
Once you’re there, of course, it doesn’t take long for your movie appetite to return. Now in its ninth year, the Dubai Film Festival is a big one, an important showcase for filmmakers both from the region and around the world. It’s been dubbed ‘the Cannes of the Middle East’ (by yours truly, but it’s no less apt for that) and despite some competition from neigbouring Abu Dhabi and Doha, who both host their own fests, it remains the preeminent event in the Arab world.
Proceedings kicked off on Sunday night with a typically opulent opening ceremony at the Madinat Arena, part of the vast Madinat Jumeirah resort complex, the festival’s HQ (imagine the set of a Douglas Fairbanks movie designed by Albert Speer). With Cat Blanchett gracing the red carpet, the event was presided over by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and patron of the festival, who presented Lifetime Achievement Awards to British director Michael Apted and legendary Egyptian actor Mahmoud Abdel Aziz.
The ceremony was followed by a screening of Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi, his visually astounding adaptation of Yann Martel’s allegedly unfilmable best-seller. That in turn was followed by a fantastically glamourous party on the beach nearby, at which the Moet flowed freely and fireworks exploded around the lofty billowing-sail profile of the Burj Al Arab hotel, Dubai’s most famous landmark, seated on its own man-made island just off shore.
A memorable night - and may have been yet more so if the Moet hadn’t flowed quite so freely in Empire’s direction - full, as they say, of Eastern promise of a great festival to come.