Dubai Film Fest to bow with ‘W’

Stone, Banks to attend opening ceremony

LONDON — The fifth edition of the Dubai Film Festival will open with Oliver Stone’s George Bush biopic “W.” on Dec. 11.

Stone, who previously attended the Dubai fest with “World Trade Center,” will jet in to the emirate with thesp Elizabeth Banks, who plays Laura Bush in the pic, for the glitzy opening ceremony.

Fest organizers had been keen to secure a high-profile name with which to kick the fest off, particularly after last year, when they landed George Clooney, who charmed local auds with his presence at the screening of fest opener “Michael Clayton.”

Other pics receiving gala screenings at this year’s edition, which unspools Dec. 11-18, include Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire,” the world preem of Palestinian helmer Najwa Najjar’s “Pomegranates and Myrrh” and Iranian helmer Majid Majidi’s “Song of Sparrows.”

This year’s fest will play host once again to charity amfAR Cinema Against AIDS Dubai fund-raising event. Last year’s auction helped raise $3 million for AIDS research and prevention projects. Salma Hayek, Laura Linney and Goldie Hawn have agreed to be co-chairs at this year’s event.

Dubai has also unveiled what promises to the strongest lineup yet in its Arab film competish, the Muhr Awards. Now in its third year, the Muhr Awards have become arguably the most comprehensive annual showcase of Arab cinema in the Middle East. The 12 contenders include Palestinian helmer Annemarie Jacir’s “Salt of This Sea,” Egyptian director Youssry Nasrallah’s “Aquarium” and Lebanese helmers Khalil Joreige and Joana Hadjithomas’ “I Want to See.”

Fest honorees are Franco-Algerian multihyphenate Rachid Bouchareb, who helmed Oscar-nommed “Days of Glory” and produced Lebanese helmer Ziad Doueiri’s “West Beirut”; Hong Kong helmer Tsui Hark; and iconoclastic filmmaker Terry Gilliam.

Fest has also introduced a Muhr Asia Africa competish to celebrate filmmakers from both continents. The strand will run separately from the dedicated Arab showcase.

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