Abu Dhabi all set for film festival | hollywood | Hindustan Times
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Abu Dhabi all set for film festival

The desert city of Abu Dhabi is all set to showcase cinema from all corners of the world, including India, for the fourth edition of the film festival starting here later today.

hollywood Updated: Oct 17, 2010 16:41 IST
Gautaman Bhaskaran

The desert city of Abu Dhabi is all set to showcase cinema from all corners of the world, including India, for the fourth edition of the film festival starting here later today.

Randal Wallace’s much acclaimed story of a racehorse, Secretariat, will herald the 10-day Festival at the city’s iconic Emirates Palace, and 172 movies from 43 countries will pan on the screen, painting not just the joy and exhilaration, but also the pain and pathos around the globe.

But this evening will be one of elation, a saga of speed and sensation that the horse named Secretariat created. Its owner, Penny Chenery, is delirious when the horse goes on to win the Triple Crown, the first in 25 years. And Chenery, essayed by Diane Lane (remember her in the 2002 erotic drama, Unfaithful with Richard Gere), pushes her way to the top of the tough male world, navigating through the pulsating perils of the race course, where fortunes are made and unmade, lives lived and destroyed. Secretariat’s added allure lies in the fact that story is true, and absolutely so.

Gautaman Bhaskaran
Gautaman Bhaskaran
Unfortunately, Lane and her co-star in the film, John Malkovich, will not be here for this evening’s gala, but Adrien Brody and Clive Owen will walk the Red Carpet, and France’s legendary actor, Gerard Depardieu, will arrive on Sunday.

However, Arab cinema will be present in its full strength. Fathy Abdel Wahab, Ghada Adel and Khaled Abol Naga lead a list of famous names that goes on to include Lebleba, Yehia el Fakharany, Yosra and many more. This is important, for one of the Festival’s main focus is to bring the movies of the region into sharper focus.

But, for waiter Jitesh and driver Imran (names changed) from India, who are part of the Festival’s hospitality team, the two among the many from the country who have made the UAE their home, it will be the Indian cinema that will fire their imagination. They would love to watch how Irrfan Khan in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Pan Singh Tomar metamorphoses into a vicious outlaw from a passionate athlete. The movie has all the ingredients of a racy thriller with Khan igniting the screen with burning vengeance.

For those Indians who prefer smaller, quieter kind of cinematic experiences, there is Srijit Mukherjee’s Autograph staring the oomph girl, Nandana Sen, along with Bengal’s Prosenjit Chatterjee in a story that is being touted as a tribute to one of the world’s greatest masters, Satyajit Ray. One will see traces of his Nayak in Autograph.

There will be another tribute this evening, to Iran’s Jafer Panahi, whose poetic The Accordian, will be screened just before Secretariat. The director is still not allowed to travel out of Iran, and Abu Dhabi follows the list of Festivals, Cannes and Venice included, to highlight the imprisonment of art in Iran.

With the Festival planning to let stars mingle with the wider community in the days to come, Panahai’s absence will be been keenly felt. The people-star encounters, this year’s great novelty, will see Abbas Kiarostami, Brody, Julianne Moore and Uma Thurman among others in perhaps unique situations.

(Gautaman Bhaskaran is covering the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, now on)