'Life of Pi' to Open Dubai International Film Festival

The movie marks the second year in succession a big Hollywood movie has heralded the beginning of the Gulf region's oldest film festival.

LONDON – This year's Dubai International Film Festival will open with Oscar-winner Ang Lee's Life of Pi, the filmmaker's 3D adaptation of Yann Martel's novel of the same name.

The movie, being rolled out worldwide by 20th Century Fox, marks the second big Hollywood event movie in a row taking top billing in Dubai, after last year opened with Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

Lee's film, starring Indian actors Irrfan Khan and Tabu, will trumpet the beginning of a week of glitzy events and a line up boasting 161 features, shorts and documentaries from around the world.

The ninth Dubai International Film Festival, held under the patronage ofUAE vice president and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, continues to woo Hollywood and star power as it strives to cement its position as the top Gulf state film shindig.

The festival runs Dec. 9 through 16 and has programmed red carpet galas for movies ranging from Arabian premieres for Karzan by Kadar Bekas and the culturally groundbreaking Wadjda directed by  Haiffa Al Mansour, Saudi's first-ever female moviemaker to shoot a film in her own the country.

The Cinema of the World galas include Hitchcock, starring Antony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, the 3D adventure Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away, Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner Amour and The Sapphires, selected to close the event.

Star power is also promised with Oscar winners Colin Firth, Cate Blanchett, Kristin Davis and Rooney Mara all expected to attend a charity event for development charity Oxfam during the upcoming Dubai International Film Festival.

Other big oversease names on the organizer's guest list include Frieda Pinto, Amr Waked, Bryan Ferry, Suraj Sharma, Steve Oram, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jessica Mauboy, Shravanthi Sainath and Adil Hussain and Erica Linz.

Dubai International Film Festival chairman Abdulhamid Juma said: "Over the last nine years DIFF has become a festival renowned not only in the UAE and the Arab World, but across the globe. 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. "

DIFF will present lifetime achievement awards to veteran Egyptian actor Mahmoud Abdul Aziz and British director Michael Apted.