Abu Dhabi: Movie star Richard Gere played his part perfectly at the opening night gala of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2012.
The screen legend was polite and courteous as he walked the red carpet at Emirates Palace for the premiere of his latest movie Arbitrage, which also opened across the UAE on Thursday.
The crowd chanted as Richard Gere arrived. Joined by his co-star Nate Parker, along with the film’s director Nicholas Jarecki, and producers Mohammad Al Turki, Gere said: “It’s my first time in Abu Dhabi and I’m just thrilled. The movie business is such fun. I’d say Chicago was probably one of the most fun movies I’ve made.”
Festival director Ali Al Jabri said: “Every year we make sure the festival is getting bigger and better. Big new challenge and I’m excited too. Next year will be bigger. I’m very proud of my team.”
Brian Young and Kevin Turen, the American actor, smiled for photographers and took the time to chat to local and international media.
The world’s media descended on the palace for opening night of the sixth edition of the festival as stars from the Arab world walked side by side with Hollywood and Indian superstars.
Leading lights of Arab cinema, including Menna Shalabi, Bassem Samra, Elham Shahin, Carmen Lebbos, Jamal Soliman, Bassel Khayat and Hatem Ali joined a packed audience for the screening of the film.
Other names from the Gulf region included Ebrahim Al Mulla, Mohammad Al Mansour, Abdul Aziz Jasem, Daod Hussain, Bothaina Al Rais, Salah Al Mulla and Zahara Al Khargi.
Indian icon Mammootty and his wife flew in especially for opening night and dazzled in impressive traditional Indian outfits.
Mammootty dressed smartly in a black tunic with gold buttons was happy to speak about Richard Gere who arrived after him. “An Officer and a Gentlemen was my favourite Richard Gere movie. This is my first time at the festival in Abu Dhabi and it’s good to be here.”
Asked what he knows about Arab cinema, Mammootty told Gulf News, “I’m familiar with Arab cinema, specifically Egyptian and Syrian”.
The president of the narrative film jury, Indian actress Shabana Azmi was joined by her jury team Niki Karimi, Cédomir Kolar, Samir Farid and Ismaël Farroukhi, along with documentary jury members Miguel Littin, Carles Bosch, Safinez Bousbia and Mohammad Hefzy.
Egyptian actor Khalid Nabawy was excited about his latest film, The Citizen, which has its red carpet screen at the festival on Sunday. “This is my third year coming to Abu Dhabi and it’s always great. To be here with The Citizen is just great. I like Richard Gere – I had dinner with him,” Al Nabawy said.