Firth, Unwin introduce opener, 'The King's Speech'

International cinema’s gliteratti descended upon the seventh Dubai Film Festival for opening pic “The King’s Speech,” which unspooled Sunday evening at the Madinat Jumeirah Complex.

Pic’s star Colin Firth and producer Gareth Unwin introduced the film, which won five awards at the British Independent Film Awards a week ago.

Commenting on the differences between Dubai’s subtropical climate and Blighty’s “terribly gray and cold” weather, Firth told attendees his “cup runneth over with gratitude” for the film’s selection to open the fest. Carey Mulligan, who recently signed up for Steve McQueen’s sophomore feature “Shame,” walked the red carpet along with Bollywood producer Karan Johar (“Kurbaan”) and thesp Aparna Sen, whose “Ita mrinalini” will unspool at the fest.

Sean Penn, pan-Arab star Sabah and Africa’s Souleymane Cisse are also due in the emirate to receive lifetime achievement awards.

The black-tie event at the Madinat Arena was oversubscribed — a large number of guests sat on the stairs hoping for a seat — as Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum opened the fest, which will unspool 157 films from 57 nations screen over eight days. Today, it will honor Firth with the Variety Intl. Star of the Year Award.

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