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Forest Whitaker, Jackie Weaver to Appear at Abu Dhabi Film Festival

Forest Whitaker AFI - P 2011
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Forest Whitaker

The actor will attend the opening ceremony, while the Australian star will serve as president of the narrative competition jury.

As Daniel Schechter's Life of Crime, starring Mark Boone Junior, gets ready to open the seventh Abu Dhabi Film Festival on Oct. 24, organizers are trumpeting star power and this year's juries for the Middle Eastern shindig.

Australian actress Jacki Weaver, whose resume boasts an Oscar nominated turn in David Michod’s Animal Kingdom (2010), will be in the city to serve as narrative competition jury president.

STORY: Daniel Schechter’s ‘Life of Crime’ to Open Abu Dhabi Film Festival

Weaver is joined on the jury by previous Black Pearl career achievement winner Hiam Abbass, Film London and the British Film Commission chief executive Adrian Wootton, Tunisian producer Dora Bouchoucha and Sandra den Hamer, current CEO of EYE Film Institute Netherlands.

The narrative jury and its president Weaver will attend the opening ceremony for Schechter's movie and an onstage Q&A, alongside Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, who is to be given the festival's Black Pearl Career Achievement award.

Actress Hiam Abbass (Munich, Miral) will also be presented with a Black Pearl career achievement award in recognition of her contributions to cinema as an artist, actress and professional.

Mervat Amin will lead the Arab stars down the carpet, including Hend Sabri, Ahmad Ezz, Basel Khayat, Eyad Nassar, Kinda Aloush, Abed Fahad, Manal Khader and Nesrine Tafesh.

Egyptian stars Lebleba and Khaled Abol Naga, whose latest film Villa 69 has its world premiere at ADFF, are also to join the festival.

STORY: Abu Dhabi to Screen Alfred Hitchcock's 'Dial M for Murder' in 3D

Toronto International Film Festival artistic director Cameron Bailey will take the president role for ADFF's documentary competition section and will be joined on the jury by Dutch screenwriter Leonard Retel Helmrich, director of A World Not Ours, South African arts and film writer Peter Machen, U.K. based filmmaker Mahdi Fleifel and the Algerian film critic, journalist and filmmaker Nabil Hadji.

There will also be leading lights of Indian cinema at the festival for its celebration of the centenary of Indian Cinema.

Cross-over star Irrfan Khan, who has taken Bollywood and Hollywood by storm, will be landing to support his new film Qissa, along with the film’s director, Anup Singh.

International stars expected on the red carpet include Chinese actress Tao Zhao (A Touch of Sin), Philippine superstar Eugene Domingo (Barber's Tale) and rising stars Laure De Clermont-Tonnerre (Giraffada), Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Sam Reid (Belle).

Directors expected include Academy Award winner Danis Tanovic (An Episode In the Life of an Iron Picker), Amma Asante, (Belle) and from China, Cannes best screenplay winner, Jia Zhangke (A Touch of Sin).

The Abu Dhabi Film Festival runs Oct. 24-Nov. 2. It will also dish out its Black Pearl prizes from the inaugural child protection category, the Emirates Film section, the new horizons sidebar and the short film competition section at a ceremony on Oct. 31.