DUBAI- Film maker Jim Sheridan and Festival Director Zhara Moufid’s inaugural Dublin Arabic Film Festival (DAFF) was a roaring success. The festival, which ran from 8-11th of May was proudly presented by Dubai Duty Free and supported by the Jumeirah Group. It commenced with a special screening on the 8th May of Omar Sharif’s critically-acclaimed Monsieur Ibrahim at Light House Cinema, Dublin. Omar Sharif himself arrived at the event in high spirits and took time to speak to the press and to the numerous fans who gathered at the red carpet to see the legendary film star in person.
The opening night was also attended by The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, Sinead El Sibai, Vice President of Marketing – Dubai Duty Free, Austin Frost, Vice President Sales and Marketing – Jumeirah Group, H.E. Mr. Khalid Nasser Rashid Lootah, UAE Ambassador and his wife Mahara, H.E. Mr. Ahmed Abdel Razek, Ambassador of Palestine, H.E. Anas Khales and his wife Mounia, photographer John Minihan, Maria McGovern of Kildare Village and Egyptian film director Ahmad Abdallah.
Guests were greeted on the red carpet by a man in traditional Arabic dress who was holding a Peregrine Falcon which brought an authentic Arabian experience to the red carpet. Guests were treated to delicious Arabian canapés. There was also a traditional Arabic henna artist who created beautiful henna designs on many of the guest’s hands.
Before the showing of Monsieur Ibrahim the audience was addressed by Minister Deenihan who warmly welcomed Mr. Sharif to Ireland and also expressed his delight that Jim Sheridan and Zhara Moufid had brought their vision of the festival to life. Jim Sheridan acknowledged the support that he had received in realising the festival and in particular thanked Dubai Duty Free and Jumeirah Groupfor their support.
The movie was followed by a question and answers session with Omar Sharif and Jim Sheridan where Mr. Sharif spoke of his fond memories of his old friend and colleague, Peter O’Toole and their time spent in the desert filming Lawrence of Arabia. Guests were then whisked back to the Shelbourne Hotel for a glitzy after party until the small hours.
The festival consisted of nine movies over two venues, Lighthouse Cinema and the Chester Beatty Library. Movies over the festival included Horses of God, Rags and Tatters, Homeland, Lawrence of Arabia, They Are the Dogs, The Lion of the Desert, Omar and The Jacoubian Building. Apart from Omar Sharif special guest’s also included Egyptian director Ahmad Abdalla’s who directed Rags and Tatters, a drama about the Tahrir Square protests. The movie earned positive reviews in the international press and won the Grand Prix at the Montpellier Film Festival. Dr. Jim Swire, who tragically lost his daughter in the Lockerbie disaster 25 years ago attended the viewing of The Lion of the Desert and took part in a questions and answers session following the movie. The festival closed on Sunday night with a showing of the Oscar-nominated Omar and a questions and answer session with the film’s producer, Waleed Zuaiter followed by music and dancing to a live Moroccan band in Light House, Cinema.
Zhara Moufid, DAFF Festival Director said, “It was pleasure to have Omar Sharif as our special guest for the inaugural Dublin Arabic Film Festival, he is a wonderful and classy man. We are also fortunate to have Jim Sheridan as president of the festival and we are very grateful for the support of our presenting sponsor Dubai Duty Free and Jumeirah. It was a really successful first edition and we are thrilled with the outcome and looking forward to next year already!”
Colm McLoughlin, the Executive Vice Chairman of presenting sponsor, Dubai Duty Free said, “Ireland has been doing business with Dubai for many years and it is important to continually build on our core business and cultural relationships. Through our sponsorship of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), we have seen that film is a great medium that crosses cultural divides and creates greater understanding and awareness. Congratulations to Jim Sheridan and Zhara Moufid for making DAFF a reality and I am sure that this festival will grow for many years to come.”
Fellow Dubai sponsor, Gerald Lawless, President and CEO of Jumeirah Group, said: “Jumeirah Group is proud to support the first Dublin Arabic Film Festival (DAFF). Given the strong links between Ireland and the Arab world it was appropriate that the festival was held in Dublin. Jumeirah has long been a supporter of the arts and has been a principal sponsor of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) at Madinat Jumeirah since its inception 10 years ago. At DAFF, film lovers will be offered a unique glimpse into the Arab world and we look forward to supporting the event and watching it develop further over the coming years.”