Stars from the Arab world walked side by side with Hollywood and Bollywood superstars.
Screen legend Gere played his part perfectly, arriving with the cast and crew of his participating movie and walking the red carpet at Emirates Palace for the premiere, which also took place across the UAE, a report by the Gulf News said.
“We have been screening Arbitrage and people have been responding to it well, which makes us feel good,” Gere was quoted as saying by the UAE daily. “There are so many people involved in making a film, so if I get an award then we all win.”
Gere said he was “looking forward to exploring” the region when asked by the reporters about his first trip to Abu Dhabi.
Gere was accompanied at the opening ceremony by his co-star Nate Parker, along with the film’s director Nicholas Jarecki, and producers Mohammed al-Turki, Brian Young and Kevin Turen.
“The world today is not as perfect as it seems and in this film, everything seems perfect from the outside but you never know what’s going on behind closed doors,” Turki was quoted as saying by the Gulf News. He described Gere as “great and very professional.” “We learnt a lot from him,” he said.
Arab cinema stars, including Menna Shalabi, Bassem Samra, Elham Shahin, Carmen Lebbos, Jamal Soliman, Bassel Khayat, Maya Diab and Hatem Ali, joined a packed audience for the screening of the opening film.
According to the report, other names from the Gulf region saw Ebrahim al-Moulla, Mohammed al-Mansour, Abdul Aziz Jasem, Daoud Hussain, Bothaina al-Rais, Salah al-Moulla and Zahara al-Khargi.
“I am honored to be here. I have seen many Arab films — Egyptian, Syrian and Tunisian films. It’s a collective cultural exchange,” said Indian superstar Mammootty who flew in with his wife especially for opening night and dazzled in an impressive traditional Indian outfit.
“I have been to Abu Dhabi many times before, it’s so close to home [India]. But it’s my first time at the festival. Arabs and Indians have always enjoyed close links. We used to trade quite a bit in the earlier days. The link is always there,” he said.
Egyptian actor Khalid al-Nabawi, excited about his latest film, which is showing at the festival, said that he was “very familiar to the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. It’s my third time here. In the first year I came with ‘Smoke Without Fire’, then I came with ‘Fair Game’ and this is the third year, with ‘The Citizen’.
“I love this film because it talks about the cooperation of both sides — the West and the East. It’s very important. It’s a message of hope instead of a message of revenge. It was shot between New York and Michigan. It took five weeks,” he was quoted as saying.