Dubai festival rides with 'Darjeeling'

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- A rich cultural mix of worldwide films -- including a large menu of cinematic showings from the Arab world -- was unveiled Monday by the Dubai International Film Festival, with organizers saying that this year's event will be the biggest yet.

The fourth edition of the DIFF, set to run Dec. 9-16, will show 141 films, from American movies to the burgeoning cinema of Turkey and Iran.

"In 2007, we have 141 of the best international films from 52 countries, many of them from the Arab world," fest chairman Abdulhamid Juma said. "We have made numerous improvements for our fourth edition that will take us further in our mission to celebrate excellence in cinema and to the nurture and develop local and international talent while also adding value to culture and the arts in Dubai and the UAE."

Leading the programs the Gala selection is "The Darjeeling Limited," Wes Anderson's wry comic outing of three estranged bothers and their train journey through India.

In a strong showing for American cinema, the Gala section also contains "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck, the Coen brothers' "No Country for Old Men" and "Married Life," with Pierce Brosnan and Chris Cooper.

The strong U.S. representation continues with "Things We Lost in the Fire", starring Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro, while indie veterans Gus Van Sant and Wayne Wang complete the pack with the showing of "Paranoid Park" and "The Princess of Nebraska," respectively.

Other highlights from around the world include "A Man's Fear of God" from Turkey; "Hafez," from Iranian director Abolfazl Jalili; and "Silent Night" from Mexico's enfant terrible of cinema Carlos Reygadas.

In a new development for the event, festivalgoers will be able to exercise their vote on some of the movies on offer, with the People's Choice Awards, which will honor festival favorites in the feature, short and documentary categories. Following each screening, viewers will receive a ballot on which they can rate the film they have just seen. The festival will add the results, with the winning filmmakers receiving a People's Choice Award trophy.

The People's Choice won't be the only awards being carried away from the festival this year, as organizers Monday also announced the results of their Lifetime Achievement Awards. Danny Glover, Egyptian director- actor-producer Youssef Chahine and South Korean filmmaker Im Kwon-taek will be honored for their outstanding work in cinema.
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