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Tom Cruise wasn’t in Dubai long, but while he was here he made the most of it. Returning to the Emirate after shooting portions of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol in the ultra-modern city last summer, Cruise swept in for the opening night gala of the film at the Dubai International Film Festival.
With an entourage of roughly 30 people in tow, Cruise didn’t have much to say to the throngs of media assembled for his visit, but he had plenty of time for his fans. As fest attendees waited patiently for the Protocol screening to begin, Cruise took his time on the red carpet, signing posters and posing for photos with virtually every fan who asked.
PHOTOS: ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ Dubai Premiere Red Carpet Arrivals
As a result, the screening was nearly two hours late, but no one seemed to care. Prior to the screening Cruise took the stage with Protocol director Brad Bird and co-stars Simon Pegg and Bollywood star Anil Kapoor to thank the Dubai fest organizers and briefly discuss the making of the film, which includes a sequence in which Cruise scales Dubai’s famed Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
At a press conference earlier in the day Cruise praised director Bird for having “a cinematic eye that brought the location alive.” Bird heaped praise on his star, adding that Cruise was enthusiastic and meticulous about doing his own stunts, no matter how dangerous. He related how Cruise’s wife, Katie Holmes, with their daughter Suri in tow, visited the set the day Cruise scaled the Burj Khalifa, but was so nervous about the stunt she left after just two takes.
At a lavish party following the screening attendees were treated to live music on the beach of the sprawling Madinat Jumeirah Resort. While most of the Protocol talent left early to attend the film’s Moscow premiere, Bollywood’s Kapoor stayed behind to discuss how much he enjoyed working on the film, especially since it casts his native India in such a positive light.
STORY: Tom Cruise Visits India’s Taj Mahal
“I met Tom and he said ‘I want to show India as elegant and colorful,’” he said. “I don’t want to show it as somber or poor – I want to show the colors and elegance.”
Kapoor agreed that the film’s various settings — Moscow, Dubai, Mumbai — will certainly help it at the global box office, and added that collaborations between Hollywood and other major international film sectors like Bollywood will become more common thanks to increased collaboration.
“For me this whole journey isn’t about how big a star I become, it’s about relationships,” he said. “It’s about Bollywood and Hollywood coming together. India is a country that is completely untapped.”
STORY: Why the World Premiere of ‘MI:4’ Will Put Dubai on the Map
But while Ghost Protocol may simply be the result of a more globalized film world that everyone agrees is inevitable, what’s less obvious is the role the Dubai film fest will play in that process. Less than a decade old and primarily focused on the cinema of the region, the event nevertheless took a giant leap forward in its evolution with the high-profile premiere of Protocol. For fest organizers, the star power that Cruise’s participation offers will hopefully help the region sustain an local film scene that is in its nascent stages now.
Says DIFF managing director Shivani Pandya: “It takes us to another level. This really encourages a lot of filmmakers here. We’re not just looking at attracting big Hollywood films. We want to support our own industry. This is very important to us because we know that if you have your own indigenous industry people take it very seriously.”
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