DUBAI // The Dubai International Film Festival opened on Sunday, but arguably the biggest hail of camera flashes arrived last night at the event's annual charity gala.
Entitled "One Night To Change Lives", the dinner and auction was held in aid of Oxfam and Dubai Cares, and attracted the week's biggest line-up of A-list stars so far to Dubai's Armani Hotel.
While last year one of the auction items was a signet ring from The King's Speech, this year the ring's famous wearer - Colin Firth - and his wife Livia, both Oxfam ambassadors, headed to Dubai especially for the event.
Given that the actor was at DIFF in 2010 with The King's Speech, this makes three years in succession the festival has had some sort of Firth presence.
"I love it here, that's why I'm here again," the actor said. "It's extraordinary. It's great to bring over big movies and big names, but then connect them to a region people are curious about."
Livia Firth was auctioning an outfit from her own wardrobe. "It's an awesome Valentino dress," she said.
Also sauntering down the red carpet were the actresses Kristen Davis and Rooney Mara, both Oxfam ambassadors.
"It's wonderful to be here," said Davis, in a shimmering vintage black dress. "I'm here to tell the people who were so generous last time that their money has been well used, it's gone to schools in Pakistan."
Davis, who has been with Oxfam since 2004, said she planned to head out into the desert tomorrow.
Freida Pinto, who is on the jury in the short films section at this year's DIFF, was another of the big- name attendees.
Among the items that were up for auction were two tickets to the opening night of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof starringScarlett Johansson on Broadway, with business-class flights and a stay at the London NYC hotel.
Last year the actress - another Oxfam ambassador - offered two tickets to the world premiere of The Avengers.
Last year's "One Night To Change Lives" event raised more than US$1 million through ticket sales and the auction. The money helped fund 14 schools, with the support of the Varkey GEMS Foundation.