The fourth edition of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF), up until now, has been quite impressive. And why not. It attracted some major international stars such as Adrien Brody (who at 29 was the youngest actor to win an Oscar for Roman Polanski's The Pianist in 2002), Gérard Depardieu (that delightfully portly French actor, who stars in Francois Ozon's, Potiche), Julianne Moore (last seen in Tom Ford's A Single Man) and acclaimed Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami (whose Certified Copy is set in Italy and said to be his first work outside his homeland) among others. Some celebrated names from the Arab cinema world also descended on the capital for the event. Stars such as Yousra (whose glittering career in cinema has been matched by an equally brilliant presence on television in recent years), movie and television actors, Yehia Al Fakharany from Egypt and Bassam Kousa from Syria, added weight to the festival's appeal.
The Bollywood brigade was represented by Nandana Sen (who features in director Srijit Mukherji's Bengali film, Autograph), who attracted attention with her glamorous outfit. So did two of Indian film industry's finest actors Irrfan Khan (whose Paan Singh Tomar was screened here) and veteran Om Puri (with wife Nandita and son in tow). However, beyond the allure of the stars lies the exciting movies. The ADFF showcased 70 feature films from about 28 countries. Thirteen of these were world premieres — including four funded by Sanad, who help develop and post-produce Arab films.
The curtain on the ten-day cinematic extravaganza - which opened with Randal Wallace's American biographical work, Secretariat - will draw to a close on Saturday with Tsui Hark's Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, a fictional account of the exploits of Di Renjie, a celebrated official in China's Tang Dynasty.
Among the gems screened so far at the festival was Mark Romanek's Never Let Me Go. The American director adapts Japanese-born British author Kazu Ishiguro's novel to tell us the story of human clones and organ donors through characters portrayed by Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield.
Also shown was Francois Ozon's screwball 1970s comedy, Potiche, starring Gérard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve as the trophy wife-turned-no-nonsense boss. Denis Villeneuve's Incendies, a moving tale which traces the plight of two children as they carry out their mother's last wish, to find their father and the brother they never met, was another striking piece of cinematic work.
Julien Schnabel's Middle Eastern epic, Miral in which Frieda Pinto plays an orphaned Palestinian schoolgirl who eventually becomes a journalist and author, is showing today.
What else is on
Conversation with Uma Thurman, tomorrow at Abu Dhabi Theatre at 2pm
Movie buffs are invited to an interactive session featuring Pulp Fiction star Uma Thurman.
Tickets: Free to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis. Those who are interested can pick tickets from any festival box office in advance.
Family Day, Saturday from 2pm
Children are invited - together with their parents - to this fun-filled day. Movie screenings include animated films and Charlie Chaplin's The Circus. Between screenings youngsters will be treated to a variety of fun activities, entertainment, popcorn and cup cakes.
Tickets: Free and open to the public. Family Day screenings are subject to regular ticket prices.