Egyptian American comic and first-time director Ahmad Ahmad entertained on the red carpet on day two of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival.

But it was actor Kevin Spacey who headlined the night, waving to fans as he stepped from a Jaguar limousine and signing autographs before working the red carpet like a pro.

“I’m really happy to be here,” said the American Beauty star who arrived for the international premiere of his latest movie Casino Jack.

“It’s a wonderful festival and I am excited about the film. The great thing in Doha is that you see so many Arabic films. The industry is being supported, emerging artists are being supported. That is great news.”

Joking with journalists having spent almost 60 minutes doing television interviews he didn’t think twice when asked about his life away from the camera.

“I love ping pong”, he said. “And I’m really good. I also love dogs. I’m a dog nut. I love food, music, bike riding.”

Spacey plays high-rolling lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a veteran schemer who shot to success, then crashed and burned during the George W Bush era, becoming the subject of one of the biggest scandals to hit Washington in recent years.

Ahmad Ahmad also showcased his film, Just Like Us, for a gala screening, first walking the red carpet with his proud parents and fellow comedians.

“I am very proud to be here to show people comedy really can break down barriers,” he said. “We need to laugh as much as we need food and water.”

His film takes the audience on a hilarious tour from LA to Cairo with stops in Dubai, Beirut, New York and Riyadh on the way. Taboos of culture and geopolitics are exploded as Ahmad attempts to prove comedy can bring peace in the ugliest of circumstances.

Openly enjoying every minute of the experience, despite being used to life in the spotlight, Ahmed posed for pictures on the red carpet, asking festival staff to take a few on his own personal camera (silly poses of course obligatory).

A third gala screening of Indian director Ram Gopal Varma’s Rakht Charitra also took place at the custom-built Katara Opera House. Varma, a director for more than 20 years but who has never attended a film festival in his career, said the experience in Doha was like a “fantasy land”.

“It’s wonderful,” he said. “I am enjoying my time here and I am glad I came.”