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by Peter Knegt
November 30, 2009 3:34 AM
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"Nine," "Avatar" Heading To Dubai

While the city-state of Dubai might have had a rough weekend, the Dubai International Film Festival came out of it with an impressive lineup of films for its sixth annual event, which runs December 9-16, 2009. The festival completed its 170 film and 55 country wide lineup, which includes a high profile opening night event in Rob Marshall's "Nine," which will screen at Madinat Arena on December 9th. The film - featuring a ridiculously star-studded ensemble including Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Marion Cotillard and Sophia Loren - will open in limited release stateside nine days later.

Other high-profile films set for the fest include James Cameron's long-awaited "Avatar," which will screen on December 15th as a gala, three days before it takes on the rest of the world. In conjunction with Lightstorm, Twentieth Century Fox and Empire International, the festival will present the film "as the spectacular finale to this year's festival."

DIFF Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali said the Galas at DIFF capture "the soul, spirit and spectacle of the festival." “These screenings define DIFF – in terms of the power of film content, diversity of films with an international outlook and the sheer enthusiasm of the audience. This year, our Gala screenings will span the globe in an unprecedented range of offerings; showcasing the creative brilliance of industry frontrunners to sensational young talent. DIFF is a meeting ground for international filmmakers that is increasingly respected around the world, and we hope to engender fruitful relationships between thriving film cultures."

Additionally, Wes Anderson's "Fantastic Mr. Fox," Jim Sheridan's "Brothers," Pedro Almodovar's "Broken Embraces," Raoul Peck's "Moloch Tropical," Rodrigo Garcia's "Mother and Child," Philippe Lioret's "Welcome," Francois Ozon's "Le Refuge," and Drew Barrymore's "Whip It" will all make their Middle East debuts at the fest.

The festival is best known for its wide range of Arab cinema that often make their debut at the festival. Three previously announced programs - Muhr Arab Documentary, Muhr Arab Feature and Muhr Arab Short - will showcase this. Check out the complete lineups for each at the following links: features, documentaries, and shorts.

It was also announced this weekend that Faten Hamama will be feted with the festival's Lifetime Achievement Award. An accomplished Egyptian producer and actress, 77-year-old Hamama becomes the first ever woman recipient of the honour in the festival’s six-year history.

“Arab film lovers will forever recall the powerful performances of Ms Faten Hamama, who has been associated with some of the all-time great movies in Egyptian cinema," DIFF Chairman Abdulhamid Juma said in a statement. "She endeared herself to audiences during a time when only singers, dancers or theatre professionals were offered acting opportunities, that too in nominal, poorly written roles. It is our privilege to honour such a distinguished artist and human being at DIFF."

For a full list of films screening at the festival, check out the festival's website. indieWIRE will be on the scene in Dubai next week.

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