Abu Dhabi: As actors, actresses, directors, producers and screenwriters left the red carpet, they walked their way into a room full of elegantly dressed fans, who shared a night of glitz and glamour with the stars as they all watched the festival’s first two movie screenings.

Among the stars attending the event were Adrien Brody known for his role in The Pianist and British star Clive Owen. Popular Egyptian actress, Yousra and Egyptian actors Yehia Al Fakharani and Khaled Abol Naga were also seated in the auditorium’s front rows.

The 1,110 movie delegates and guests applauded the actors as the festivals executive director, Peter Scarlett called out their names.

Scarlett then introduced an eight minute film titled The Accordion directed and produced by Jafar Panahi, which he described as “an initiative in support of free speech and open-mindedness.”

The Accordion was shot in Tehran, and showcases the adventures of two young street musicians whose accordion was taken away from them by a stranger, who they eventually make peace with.

A dressed up horse then dances on stage to introduce the second film screening. The Secretariat by Randall Wallace, is based on a true story about a horse called Secretariat (Big Red), who in 1973 becomes the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years.

Diane Lane, who plays Penny Chenery, takes over her fathers stable after he passes away, and invests in the colt, despite disputes with her brother and husband, who do not believe in Secretariat’s ability to make track record. Penny persists on investing in the colt with the help of veteran trainer John Malkovich, who plays Lucien Laurin.

Even though he was unable to attend, a short speech by Malkovich was delivered at the function. “I’d like to apologise to everyone for not being there, I hope you enjoy the film about a fantastic race horse, and I know a lot of people in the Middle East love horse racing. I hope I can be in the UAE by next year inshallah (God willing).”

When the popular Egyptian actor and jury member Khaled Abol Naga, was asked what he thought about Secretariat he said, “I commend the director for doing a job well done, but I personally hated it. It was told in a linear and repetitive way. I could have done a much better job. I already knew how the story was going to unfold from the beginning.”