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Dubai International Film Festival: Cate Blanchett, stars light up red carpet

As the 14th Dubai International Film Festival kicks off, the Gulf News team is on the ground bringing you all the action from the red carpet, events and film screenings interviews.

Dubai: Stars lit up the red carpet of the 14th Dubai International Film Festival on Wednesday, kicking off a week of movie screenings, industry talks and celebrity spotting at Madinat Jumeirah, with this year’s theme: Let Film Find You.

Blanchett arrives on the red carpet

Stars walking the red carpet included Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett, who was awarded the Dubai International Film Festival Honorary Award.

American singer-actress Vanessa Williams was also at the Diff opening night.

Dressed in a sparkling gown, Williams, who will also be attending Diff’s Global Gift Gala charity event on December 8 at the Palazzo Versace hotel, said she was looking forward to playing tourist in Dubai. She added: “It’s great to be part of a global festival that brings the world closer together.” 

Patrick Stewart honoured

Speaking on the red carpet, celebrated actor Patrick Stewart said he was honoured to be named for a lifetime achievement award at Diff saying: “I’ve been looking forward to this event for so long. You know in school, you would get a tick for good work. This is what this award means to me.”

Special honor for Irrfan Khan

The spotlight also shone on Bollywood’s Irrfan Khan for his remarkable achievements in Indian and Western cinema. 

The actor, whose credits include A Mighty Heart and The Lunchbox, will showcase his Anup Singh-directed relationship drama, The Song of the Scorpions, at this year’s festival.

Here's what Irrfan Khan has to say about his special award

“It’s a huge honour and it’s great that you can bring your stories to the world,” said Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan, who will receive a special recognition for his work at the Dubai International Film Festival tonight.

Hollywood actor David Harbour was also spotted on the red carpet

A beaming Harbour, star of the hit Netflix show, Stranger Things, who is a guest of the festival, admitted he had mixed feelings about being the ‘ultimate TV dad’, saying: “I don’t want to start wearing dad jeans and become a non-sexualised being. Reading the scripts though, I did know that there would be a paternal side to Chief Hopper [his character on the show].”

Shaikh Mansoor Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum was also spotted on the red carpet

We chat with actress Q’orianka Kilcher

We spotted Lebanese actress Nadine Njeim looking glamorous in that gold, sequinned number on the red carpet.

Other Arab stars, including Yousra, Ahmed Fahmi, Menna Shalabi and Muhr Awards jury member Ahd Kamel, were among those in attendance, as well.

Former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko, along with Danish actor Claes Bang, who stars in The Square, also walked the red carpet.

Sonam Kapoor arrives on the red carpet

The fashion royalty camed dressed in white. The Bollywood actress will be attending the IWC Filmmaker Award gala on Thursday at the One&Only Royal Mirage hotel. 

Emirati filmmaker Ali Mustafa on the red carpet

We also spotted actress Saudi Arabian actress and filmmaker Ahd Kamel, who is also a jury member of the Muhr Awards.

Kamel, who starred in Wajdja, Saudi Arabia’s first film to be sent to the Oscars, said she can’t believe the day has come that there are talks about opening a cinema in Saudi. She’s currently working on a four-part BBC Netflix series where she plays a refugee.

Nayla Al Khaja on equality

Emirati filmmaker and IWC Filmmaker Award contender Nayla Al Khaja spoke about equality in the UAE film industry saying: “Gender balance among male and female filmmakers is high in the UAE because we all started late, but men and women started together.” 

Nayla Al Khaja

She added that competition was stiff this year, but she was very excited to be shortlisted for IWC. The December 7 award gala will see one Gulf director win $100,000 (Dh367,218). Thor: Ragnork’s Blanchett is the returning head of the IWC jury, which sees Tunisian actress Hend Sabri serve as a fellow juror. 

Look who else we just spotted at the red carpet

Egyptian writer Wahid Hamed is one of the early birds at Diff tonight.

“I’ve been affected by every film I’ve seen, even the bad ones. A scriptwriter can learn something from every movie he sees,” said Wahid Hamed, Lifetime Achievement honoree, on the question of which film impacted him most in his youth. 

Social media star Tanner Fox talks to Gulf News

Hollywood actors Adrien Brody, along with Despacito singer Luis Fonsi, will headline Global Gift Gala, while Bollywood’s Shabana Azmi and Manoj Bajpayee will screen their films In The Shadows and 5 Rupees, respectively, at Diff.

This year, the festival will put forward 140 films until December 13. Titles include The Disaster Artist, Shape of Water, Mountain, Shock and Awe, Naila and the Uprising, Beyond the Clouds, Ferdinand and more.

The opening film of the festival was Hostiles, starring Hollywood’s Christian Bale, while space opera Star Wars: The Last Jedi will close the festival.

Earlier at the Diff opening night...

We're all set for Diff red carpet

What's showing at Diff

There's plenty of movies you shouldn't miss at Diff. Check out the full cinema listings here

Mustafa Abbas

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With inputs from David Tusing, tabloid! Editor; Bindu Rai, Deputy tabloid! Editor; Marwa Hamad, Senior Reporter; Manjusha Radhakrishnan, Chief Reporter; Dona Cherian, Guides Writer; Irish Eden Belleza, Videographer; Logan Fish, Video Editor; and Gulf News Readers' Desk