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Ninth Dubai film festival concludes in style

More than $570,000 was handed out in prize money across three categories for the Muhr Awards

  • Shaikh Mansour Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum with Abdul Hamid Juma, Diff Chairman, at theclosing ceremony at MadinImage Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • English director, producer, writer and actor Michael Aptedwith wife Dana Stevens.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Celebrities stripped off for charity, the Hollywood elite partied under the stars and film makers from across the Middle East had their first taste of the world of movies.

Once again the curtains have fallen on the ninth edition of the Dubai International Film Festival and this year will be one to be remembered.

More than $570,000 was handed out in prize money across three categories for the Muhr Awards at last night’s closing ceremony.

The weather threatened to spoil a few nights of celebrations but apart from a few drops of rain, held off until guests were either safe inside theatres or tucked up in bed.

Colin Firth, Freida Pinto, Kristin Davis of ‘Sex And The City’ fame, Rooney Mara and Arab star Amr Waked stole the show at a charity dinner in association with the festival in support of Oxfam and Dubai Cares.

Against the backdrop of a towering Burj Khalifa where the magnificent fountains at Armani Hotel Dubai lived up to their reputation, the stars joined forces and raised a whopping $542,000 (Dh1,990,386) in less than three hours of relentless, but highly entertaining bidding. The evening saw Firth impulsively auction off his Paul Smith “guilt-free” organic tuxedo and Pinto tease the bidders to unzip their wallets to take home the strapless red Valentino gown she was wearing on the night.

“Come on guys, make me happy… I will give you the gown after I slip into my pajamas,” joked Pinto and it eventually went for $18,000.

Bollywood was represented by the likes of Malaika Arora Khan and designer Vikram Phadnis and Khan managed to raise $18,000 for an oil on canvas painting Lute Player and Horse in green by Iran’s Nasser Ovissi. “Hello Dubai, I am so impressed with Dubai’s generosity. A big thank you. This painting will look great in your living room,” said Arora Khan with a flourish.

Academy award-winner Firth, accompanied by his fashion entrepreneur wife Livia, was chatty on the red carpet. “I don’t know if I have changed lives, but Oxfam has certainly changed mine. I have met people who would never have been a part of my vision through Oxfam,” he said.

Hollywood stars Cate Blanchett led the way as head of the jury for the first IWC Film Makers Awards.

On opening night, the gala screening of long-awaited film Life of Pi, Blanchett glided down the red carpet in silence. But 24 hours later, a far more dynamic and warm personality was revealed as she arrived in her role as the head of the jury at the first-time IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Award. At the award ceremony at the Armani Hotel, a film grant of Dh367,000 was awarded to London-based Iraqi filmmaker Maysoon Pachachi, to make her feature Nothing Doing in Baghdad.

Other gala red carpet screenings included the international premiere of Iraqi-born director Karzan Kader, Bekas, Andrew Adamson and James Cameron’s Cirque du Soleil: World’s Away 3D, Hitchock in the Cinema of the World category and first female Saudi director Haifaa Al Mansour’s feature film Wadjda.

Freej creator Mohammad Saeed Harib announced plans to direct a sports comedy in partnership with Image Nation Abu Dhabi. The Emirati director, best known for his popular 3D animated series, said he will make his debut as a feature-length film director when he starts filming the untitled project in the UAE next spring. “I have been into animation but the idea of directing a sports comedy intrigued me, said Harib. “I hope everybody starts playing soccer after watching it.”

The youngsters weren’t forgotten either and more than 1,000 children enjoyed their first red carpet experience for the Friday gala screening of Journey to the Christmas Star which was attended by famous Norwegian talent Vilde Marie Zeiner and Agnes Kittelsen.