Get the red carpet ready because the celebrities are coming to town.
Academy Award winners Cate Blanchett,  Kevin Spacey and Colin Firth have been confirmed on this year’s line-up for the ninth Dubai International Film Festival (Diff), which opens on December 9 at the Madinat Jumeirah.
Also joining these A-listers are Cuba Gooding Jr, Frieda Pinto, Rooney Mara, Kristen Davis, singer Bryan Ferry, Firth’s wife Livia, English actor Steve Oram and Kiwi actress Kerry Fox.
A host of Arab celebrities  including Egyptian actresses Laila Aloui, Nelly Kareem, Caroline Khalil, Sherine Adel and actors Khalid Al Nabawy, Amr Waked  and Mohammad Sa’ad will also rub shoulders with Lebanese star Shirine Abdul Nour on the red carpet during the eight-day festival, it was announced on Monday.
The annual event will open with Ang Lee’s long-awaited 3D adaptation of Yann Martel’s bestseller ‘Life of Pi’, while comedy drama The Sapphires, based on a play of the same name, will close the festival. Life of Pi stars Suraj Sharma and Shravanthi Sainath, along with Australian singer Jessica Mauboy, who stars in The Sapphires, will attend.
More than 160 films including 52 world premieres will be screened during the festival. They include the biographical film ‘Hitchcock’, starring Antony Hopkins as legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and Dame Helen Mirren who plays his wife. Critically acclaimed 3D film ‘Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away’ and Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival, Amour, will also be shown. The film is also Austria’s entry in the Best Foreign Film category at the Oscars.
Other nightly red carpet gala screenings will include the Arabian premieres of the Kurdish film ‘Bekas’ by Karzan Kadar and the culturally-groundbreaking ‘Wadjda’ by Haiffa Al Mansour, Saudi Arabia’s first woman director.
A total of 83 films will compete for Muhr Awards with a combined prize money of $575,000 across three categories – Muhr Emirati, Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica. Lifetime Achievement Awards will be presented to veteran Egyptian actor Mahmoud Abdul Aziz and prolific British director Michael Apted, whose films include ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ (1988), Bond film ‘The World in Not Enough’ (1999) and the recently released ‘Chasing Mavericks’.
“We’ve been working for 12 months to put this festival together,” said Diff chairman Abdul Hamid Juma at a press conference announcing the line-up.
“This year I truly feel we are presenting one of our strongest line-ups ever, bringing together filmmakers and fans to watch an remarkable variety of films from around the world, many of which they are unlikely to see anywhere else. In 2004, we had one world premiere. This year, we have 52. That gives you an idea of how we have progressed.
“Sometimes we cannot get the stars but we get the film. The film is the star,” he added.
Dubai International Film Festival will run from December 9 to 16. Go to dubaifilmfest.com for more.
By kelly Crane