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Home: Dubai Film Festival 2005: Daily Reports [Day 1]

The evening inaugural of the second DIFF had over 800 VIP guests walk up the 80-meter long red carpet at the Madinat Jumeirah Arabian Resort for the opening gala screening of "Al Janah Al Aan" (Paradise Now).

Technically this is the first ‘day’ of the Dubai International Film Festival. But let’s just square things – DIFF is ushered in, as tradition dictates, with a red carpet rolled out for celebrities and VIP guests. Considering – outside the gala launch screening – there will be no other films playing tonight for regular folks, can we really call it Day 1? I wouldn't. But I don’t make the rules.

For humble film reporters such as yours truly, a black-tie party is of little consequence; it is no food for the film geek’s soul. So I’ll leave the lurid details of tonight’s shindig – the glittery gowns, fine tuxedos, and rich art décor – to the more competent local tabloids.

But before we move on with my film commentary for Day 2 of the fest, allow me this opportunity to perform an exorcism of sorts. After having reviewed the program schedule, I believe, Year 2 of DIFF is a bit of a downer. Noah Cowen (who heads the Toronto Film Festival programming and was Programme Director of DIFF 2004) did not return as part of the organising committee this year. From the outset, the film selection looks a little tame. The mix of films is quite literally a mix – we have imports (leftovers?) from international film festivals (Water,” “L’Enfant,” “Peacock,” “2046,” “Hidden,” and more) which does give us access to a wide cross-section of films but no original programming. Mind, this is not a blatant criticism, it is an honest observation – a young fest like DIFF should be competing within the festival circuit; it should be trying to create its own identity not stealing someone else's thunder. Besides shouldn’t we all be justified in raising an eyebrow or two with “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Driving Miss Daisy” on the roster? Their existence on the list is but the justification of one Morgan Freeman who is at DIFF 2005 playing the proverbial festival godfather. More power to him, he’s a great actor, but why should we care? What was that – tribute? Bah!

To be fair, I will be reviewing my above standpoint about the quality of the films on the DIFF 2005 schedule in my Day 7 entry. Stick around.

OK, so are we ready? On your mark, get set, Day 2! -- by Adnan Khan

P.S. Thanks to Sarmad Khan for bringing some jazz to the Daily Pics.

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Madinat Arena
8:00pm Paradise Now *GALA*
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