A masterclass with Todd Solondz in the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr on Monday was a lesson in self-deprecation.
With the US director behind such intensely dark comedies as Happiness, Palindromes and his latest, Dark Horse, offering his own take on his success: "I'm just pleased that people aren't hostile to me and that there is an audience for my movies beyond my family."
Although acclaimed and loved by many, Solondz's films have a way of fiercely dividing opinion, touching on subjects that some consider go too far. Solondz himself argues that the subject matter often delights for the wrong reasons.
"At home, my films are taken seriously and critically, but abroad there's always a slight accent of: we like your movies because they tell us of how terrible it is in America and it makes us so happy we don't live there."
And as for the reaction to the screening of Dark Horse in Abu Dhabi, Solondz said that although it was the first screening of one of his films in the Gulf, it didn't feel like it.
"It was mainly westerners in the audience. Geographically I may be in the Arab world, but you wouldn't know it."
* Alex Ritman