The Dubai International Film Festival is currently underway in the United Arab Emirates. The week-long festival promises a little something for everyone—and the opening night was a real crowd-pleaser.
Lights, cameras and cue the screaming fans. As Hollywood heavyweights like Cate Blanchett walked the red carpet—the night really belonged to Pi Patel. Suraj Sharma was plucked from obscurity to star in Life of Pi—a film helmed by renowned Chinese American director Ang Lee. A story about hope in the face of insurmountable obstacles—including a Bengal tiger. But—while the filmmaker was notably absent—Ang Lee’s Ambassadors sang his praises.
Shravanthi Sainath, Actor of Life of Pi, said, "As far as working with Ang is concerned, he’s an amazing human being, an amazing director. Every little moment I had with him I cherished, you know it’s part of me now, so I feel like a very blessed and privileged person to have worked with him."
“I think working with Ang Lee is cherishable, something I will cherish forever." Shravanthi Sainath said.
Having carved out a successful career in Hollywood—thanks to Slumdog Millionaire—actress Freida Pinto had this advice.
Freida Pinto, Actor, said, “You know what you all make your own destiny, you all know your own strengths and weaknesses so work on that and don’t try to copy someone else or emulate someone else. "
The evening also brought out the Arab glitterati.
Abdulhamid Juma, Chairman of Dubai International Film Festival, said, “We have more than 75 Arab films in this festival, we are very proud of that, 16 of those films are in the Muhr awards, there are 10 films from the Emirates, there are 22 platforms for discussion. 50,000 people watched the film festival last year, we want to increase this number. We want to change the culture of film viewing and film watching in this part of the world.”
Given the political turmoil in the Arab world—perceptions of the region are oftentimes skewed. British director and Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, Michael Apted hopes to redress the balance.
Michael Apted, Director, said, “American perception of the Middle East is very strange and the more you can educate people about other cultures is a very powerful thing.”