Abu Dhabi, Nov 3: Films, filmmakers and film lovers - the seventh edition of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF) turned out to be a delightful congregation of all three elements. Overall, the 10-day gala was true to its tagline of "Let's celebrate film". The movie extravaganza wowed Indians living here by screening a mix of classics and contemporary off-beat movies.
Given its line-up, one was expecting names like Judi Dench and Jennifer Aniston to grace the red carpet for their films "Philomena" and "Life of Crime", respectively. Nevertheless, with an eclectic bouquet of over 160 feature and short films from across the globe, its box office spoilt the viewers for choice.
Drama, romance, action, period, animation, comedy and classics - it had them all, with a special programme dedicated to the centenary year of Indian cinema.
Five gems of Indian cinema - Guru Dutt's "Pyaasa", M.S. Sathyu's "Garm Hava", Jahnu Barua's Assamese film "Halodhia Choraye Baodhan Khai", Ritwak Ghatak's Bengali film "Subarnarekha" and Mani Kaul's "Duvidha", were showcased. Among the new ones were Anup Singh's "Qissa", Richie Mehta's "Siddharth", Nagraj Manjule's "Fandry" and Aparna Sen's"Goynar Baksho".
The presence of some Indian film veterans like Sathyu, Barua and Sen as well as of actors like Irrfan, Moushumi Chatterjee, Tisca Chopra, Tillotama Shome, was a bonus for the stream of NRI film buffs who flocked to the festival venues.
The screenings, divided between the grand Emirates Palace auditorium and the VOX Cinemas in Marina Mall, drew in a considerable audience.
The response was equally welcoming for most films which came from the Arab nations, Europe and the US.
One of the highlights was Pakistani film "Zinda Bhaag", co-directed by Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi it is the first movie from the nation to be sent for the Oscar best foreign film category in 50 years.
The overall bouquet of films comprised entries from places like Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Haiti, India, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tunisia, UAE, Britain and the US.
Festival director Ali Al Jabri is content with the response to the seventh edition, and he hopes the event grows to be bigger and better in its next edition when it happens Oct 16-25, 2014.
Looks like it will - given the publicity for the event - the pavements adorned flags of the fest.
This year, names like Hollywood actors Forest Whitaker and David Hasselhoff., Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass, Australian actress Jacki Weaver and Oscar award-winning director Danis Tanovic attended the show, where Whitaker and Abbass received the Black Pearl Career Achievement award respectively.
The films and star power apart, thought-provoking panel discussions and masterclasses were an attraction at the fest, which is a young but popular annual extravaganza of the Gulf region.
Actors and filmmakers discussed several issues concerning world cinema. From the revival of Iraqi cinema to the "100 Years of Indian cinema: Studying the past to define the future" - the discussions aimed to elicit interest from industry leaders, marketing and distributing heads and from film students, and they did. Most panelists were happy to receive "intelligent" questions from the audience members, especially from students.
The organisers hope to move from strength to strength with such patrons, who hope to bring fresh realms to the world of global cinema.