Fraser, Cage, Glover among DIFF attendees

Dubai film fest begins Dec. 11

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Nicolas Cage, Brendan Fraser and Danny Glover -- back for a second straight year -- will be among those lending star power to the 5th annual Dubai International Film Festival.

Director Oliver Stone also will be in town, accompanying the Middle-East premiere of "W.," while Indian screen stars Abhishek Bachnan and Sonam Kapoor will help turn the eyes of the subcontinent toward Dubai.

Over the weekend, festival organizers took the wraps off this year's Cultural Bridge panel, which will see Toronto International Film Festival co-director Cameron Bailey, Algerian novelist Mohammed Moulessehoul, Jamaican-American singer and social activist Harry Belafonte, Ethiopian-American filmmaker Haile Gerima and Indian-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta discuss issues involving tolerance and world peace.

Organizers also announced the juries for the festival's Muhr Awards. Spread across five categories, including this year's debuting AsiaAfrica section, the Muhr nods will award a total $576,000 to winning filmmakers.

Among this year's jurists are "Mongol" director Sergei Bodrov, who will chair the Arabic features jury, and Sundance Film Festival director Geoffrey Gilmore, who will lead the documentary jury.

"In 2008, we will celebrate with Dubai cinema fans, international visitors, and film industry figures as we mark our fifth year with 181 films from 66 different countries from the Arab World and across the globe," said festival chairman Abdulhamid Juma, who added that British director Terry Gilliam will be among those honored at the fest this year.

"Our 2008 honorees for the DIFF Salutes Awards are French-Algerian filmmaker Rachid Bouchareb, Chinese action director Tsui Hark and American-British fantasy master Terry Gilliam," Juma said. "All of them have pushed the boundaries of cinema."

Also luring A-listers to Dubai this year will be the second annual AMFAR dinner auction. Celebrities including Goldie Hawn, Salma Hayek, Laura Linney and Preity Zinta are scheduled to attend the event which last year was hosted by Sharon Stone and raised more than $3 million for AIDS and HIV causes.

The Dubai International Film Festival runs Dec. 11-18.
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