Delhi, Dec. 18 -- Dubai offers a delightfully distorted reality. The buildings are staggeringly tall, the cars are ridiculously expensive and the opulence makes your jaw drop, making it the perfect backdrop for a film festival.
Attending the Dubai International Film Festival is a luxurious experience. The festival is situated in the sprawling Madinat Jumeirah resort complex. Between December 10 and 17, one hundred and eighteen films from 48 countries were screened.
Actors, directors and producers from around the world convened for the 11th edition of the festival. The legendary Asha Bhosle, rubbed shoulders with Hollywood star Eva Longoria, recent Golden Globe nominee Emily Blunt and Egyptian superstar Nour El Sherif. Paul Bettany and Olga Kurylenko also stopped by to meet press on their latest films - Shelter and The Water Diviner - both of which were screened at the festival.
DIFF, as it is popularly known, kicked off with the acclaimed Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything. Other big-ticket movies showed here included Alejandro Gonzalez Iaarritu's Birdman, J C Chandor's A Most Violent Year, Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher and Morten Tyldum's The Imitation Game. The festival not only brings the best of world cinema to movie lovers in the UAE, but also helps propel the region's fledgling film industry. "Our objectives are clear," said festival managing director Shivani Pandya, "we are a film festival for the community."
Of course, 30% of the approximately two million people who live in Dubai are Indians. Bollywood is everywhere in Dubai - posters of Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Juhi Chawla loom large on the streets.
Bollywood films are widely popular here - this year both Humshakals and Bang Bang! were ranked number one at the UAE box office. Dubai is also a desired destination to shoot for Bollywood producers. Shah Rukh Khan's Happy New Year was largely based in the famed Atlantis hotel here.
Welcome Back, Anees Bazmee's sequel to his 2007 smash hit has been shot almost entirely here. In fact, there was a major Welcome Back press conference at DIFF with Anil Kapoor, John Abraham, director Anees Bazmee and producer Firoz Nadiadwala.
This year, the festival's prestigious lifetime achievement award was given to the legendary Asha Bhosle. But DIFF also showcased more than Bollywood. The Indian films showing this year included Chaitanya Tamhane's acclaimed Court and Bikas Ranjan Mishra's Chauranga. This cocktail of East and West and art house and mainstream is what makes DIFF unique.