Samuel L. Jackson with his wife La Tanya on the opening night of Diff Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Hollywood heavyweight Samuel L. Jackson led an array of big names on the red carpet on the opening night of the 13th Dubai International Film Festival (Diff) at Madinat Jumeirah on December 7.

Jackson was honoured with a Diff Lifetime Achievement award alongside Bollywood actress Rekha and French-Lebanese score composer Gabriel Yared.

Watch: In conversation with Emirati director Ali Mostafa.

“I am pleased to be here… I am just doing my job as an actor. I don’t like being in a contest,” Jackson said, walking the red carpet with his wife LaTanya Jackson. “My most glorious is yet to come.”

The actor was also asked about his selfie with the actor Tyrese Gibson at the Los Angeles International Airport on his way to Dubai.

Watch: In conversation with Samuel L. Jackson.

“Tyrese didn’t come with me. He was on his way. He was already at the airport when we got there,” he laughed. 

Would he ever film a movie in Dubai? “I hope so,” he said. “We were just talking about this the other day, I was asking, ‘Do I have to learn Arabic or can I just come work here?'"

Watch: In conversation with Tyrese Gibson.

Composer Yared said he was very happy to be receiving an award in an Arab country.

"You can’t aim for creating a successful score,” said Yared on the red carpet, who said one of the most glorious moment in his career was winning an Academy Award for his work in The English Patient.

In conversation with Gabriel Yared.

“I’m not interested in winning awards, I am interested in building relationships with directors and elevating the audience.”

Watch: In conversation with Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor.

The stars headed into the Madinat Arena screening of opening film ‘Miss Sloane’, a political thriller starring Jessica Chastain as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C.. Chastain was nowhere to be seen, but director John Madden and actor Jack Lacey walked the carpet.

“I’m immensely proud of the film and thrilled to be in Dubai for the first time. It’s a whirlwind. I don’t know the world outside of the US to know if this sort of story in terms of lobbying has a direct application or if the takeaway is more a woman who will go to any lengths,” said Lacey.

Director Madden said he hoped people won’t forget the film once their car keys were out.

Watch: In conversation with John Madden, director of Miss Sloane and actor Jake Lacey.

“It’s a timely film because it’s about political process and we have had an extraordinary demonstration of that in America,” he said.  "One of the ways in which the film reflects the current politics is the politics of gender. From the title of it you know it has a central woman character who meets extraordinary challenges."

Gulf News speaks to the DIFF Chairman Abdul Hamid Juma on the red carpet.

Other stars who walked the red carpet on the opening night include actor Tyrese Gibson who earlier spoke highly of Emirati director Ali Mostafa.

Mostafa’s film The Worthy, a post-apocalyptic thriller, which premieres at a gala event on December 9; Gibson called him the “Steven Spielberg of Dubai” online

"It's totally nuts," Mustafa said, of Gibson's praise. "As long as I'm making films, I am happy."

Watch: Actress Donia Eden talks to Gulf News live from #DIFF16.

The pair shared a warm hug on the red carpet.

“I am here to support my brother,” Gibson said of Mustafa. “He has a big movie and I love what he’s doing to the culture. He’s breaking walls and he has a huge fan base. It’s great that he is providing the voice for this region.” 

On Lifetime Achievement honouree Jackson, the actor said he was a legend.

“That my family right there. He’s a good man. A lot of people don’t know this but he has more box office receipts than anybody in the history of cinema,” he said. 

Bollywood stars Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor, whose film ‘Befikre’ will have its world premiere on December 8, also attended the opening night of the festival. Singh, who returned to Diff for the third time, described his times at the festival as amazing.

Watch: More highlights from the DIFF red carpet.

“There is so much love and warmth ... And I still remember, the place that they screen the film is large. Lots of people sit and watch it together. So it’s great to see their reaction, them smiling and chuckling. ‘Befikre’ is tailormade for that kind of energy and excitement,” he said.

“The film really has a desi heart, a traditional film. It’s the first bonafide Hindi romantic comedy in a long time.”

His co-star Vaani Kapoor, who plays Shyra in the romance, called the UAE as one of her favourite destinations.

“Dubai has such a cool vibe and it is lavish. I love the cleanliness, the big wide roads …,” said Kapoor. “It’s great to finally get into this festival. We’ve been trying for a while.” 

At this year’s Diff, 156 films spanning 44 languages from 55 countries will screen. The line-up features 57 world and international premieres. Diff will wrap up on December 14 with a screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.