The 10th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival (Diff) began  with the Palestinian feature film Omar, but it looked to Hollywood’s major Oscar hopeful to call it a wrap. The curtains came down with the Middle Eastern premiere of David O Russell’s American Hustle, which was nominated for seven Golden Globes and two SAG Awards earlier this week.
“I feel humbled to win all these award nominations … It’s such a privilege to bring my film to a festival in Dubai so that it reaches a larger audience,” said Russell on the red carpet. American Hustle is the story of con artists based in New York and New Jersey in 1970s America and is creating a strong Oscar buzz, just like his previous film Silver Linings Playbook that won big last year.
While the actors from the star-packed drama Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence skipped the UAE premiere, the director was more than happy to talk up his talent. He said they were busy working and said their “hello to Dubai”.
“I had the privilege of working with Christian Bale in The Fighter, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook - so it was exciting to combine them. It was also exciting to have them all take risks and roles that they have never taken before,” said Russell.
“Every actor is written different and I wrote for every actor’s voice and I wanted them to show their most raw, most loved, their most upset ... kind of like an opera,” said Russell about his film.
His chances at dominating the awards season?
“I don’t think about it much. I try to make a good movie and I always aspire to do my best.”
The 10th year of Diff was a relentless nine-day celebration of world cinema and screened 174 feature films from around the globe, many of which are Oscar contenders. The decennial year of Diff also focussed its spotlight on Arab cinema.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed this film festival and it was great to catch up with my friends from Arab and world cinema. I saw some beautiful films like Omar and we are going through an exciting phase,” said Bushra, Egyptian actress.
For the first time in 10 years, the festival kicked off with an Arab feature. In the past, Hollywood biggies such as Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol was given that berth.
During the week, film buffs were also treated to the sights of Hollywood heavyweights such as Martin Sheen , Cate Blanchett and Naomie Harris as well as spot Arab stars such as Yousra, Nelly and Hassan Yousuf, Ezzat Al Alaily and Mohammad Sa’ad on the red carpet.
Industry experts such as Oscar-nominated Shekhar Kapur and director Jim Sheridan swapped trade secrets in an interactive panel about how to sharpen filmmaking skills. The pen-ultimate night belonged to Hany Abu Assad who received a standing ovation at Muhr Awards for his Best Director and Best Feature gong. Bollywood stars Priyanka Chopra, Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh also made use of the Diff platform to unveil the trailer for their next film Gunday.