Day 1 at DIFF

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

2013 Dubai International Film Festival - Day 1

The Opening Gala of Dubai International Film Festival was a whirlwind of excitement. With celebrities like Cate Blanchett, Martin Sheen, and Michael B. Jordan gracing the red carpet, the awarding of achievement awards to Martin Sheen and esteemed Egyptian film critic Samir Farid, the screening of the new Palestinian film by director Hany Abu-Assad entitled Omar, and the fantastically hectic after party, the rest of the film festival now has a lot to live up to.

What stood out to me most about the night was first, the importance of a film like Omar being chosen to open the festival. Omar is a traditional story told in a very non-traditional matter. Omar loves Nadia and will do anything for her, but he also wants to aid in the freeing of Palestine with his close friends. The obstacles that Omar faces to juggle the loves of his life leads him down a trying path. There are some unexpected twists along the way, which makes Omar an intense and absorbing film.

The successful reception of Omar, and DIFF’s decision to open the festival with it, is telling of the status of Arab filmmaking right now. The film’s unconventional storyline, setting, and overall quality shows the world of international film is eager to see more of what Arab filmmakers come up with when they continue to think outside the box by pushing boundaries, and challenging perceptions.

Secondly, there was a massive amount of people from all over the world attending the opening last night. After seeing Omar, everyone came together for the after party to enjoy food, fireworks, music, and even an aerial acrobatics performance. There was a distinct, and irrepressible energy that came from the convergence of so many people for the sake of international cinema. I was beyond grateful to get to experience such an event, and especially in Dubai. The unique location of Dubai has made it a true point of connection for the film industry of the world, and this has never been more apparent to me than last night. By Sara Castillo.

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