Dubai film festival opens with glitz, glamour and Pi

The stars descended upon Dubai's Madinat Jumeirah as the ninth edition of the Dubai International Film Festival took off with a roar on Sunday evening.

Hollywood actress Cate Blanchett, Indian superstar Freida Pinto and a host of regional celebrities joined the real stars of the night - the cast of opening film Life of Pi - on the red carpet.

The film's 19-year-old star, Suraj Sharma arrived to resounding cheers, alongside co-stars Adil Hussain and  Shravanthi Sainath, who plays his love interest in the film.

"It's been great - everybody's so appreciative, everybody's going a little bit crazy, so that's a good thing," Sharma gushed with an infectious giggle.

Directed by Ang Lee, Life of Pi is a visually stunning tale of survival that pushes the boundaries of imagination.

"This is beyond what I imagined. Nobody can really imagine the things that Ang can; he is a genius," the self-proclaimed 'studious boy' said.

Joining him in a gorgeous gold gown was Slumdog Millionaire star, Freida Pinto, who will serve on the jury for short films this year.

"I just love cinema and I felt that if I could do my bit in helping these films get some recognition, like I was given a chance the first time, then why not?" she said about her role.

And what advice would she give young stars looking for their break?

"Stay fit and healthy - don't smoke!" she proclaimed.

Effortlessly beautiful Cate Blanchett looked almost ethereal as she glided down the red carpet - but didn't stop for questions - in a silver flowy number. 

Blanchett is at the festival as part of Monday night's IWC Schaffhausen Arab Filmmaker awards, which will grant $100,000 to one of four shortlisted scripts.

[See the Life of Pi stars earlier in the day]

Included in the shortlist is Emirati director Ali Mostafa, who also attended the red carpet.

"They've selected a very strong group of people so whoever gets the award I will be very happy", the diplomatic star said.

British director Michael Apted and Egyptian legend Mahmoud Abdel Aziz were both honoured with lifetime achievement awards.

This year's festival, which runs until December 16, showcases 160 films from all around the world, featuring 43 languages.

For tickets and showtimes, visit

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