The controversial film W., based on the life of George W Bush, the US president, has been chosen for opening-night gala screening at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) next month. The film's director, Oliver Stone, is expected to attend the show on Dec 11 and introduce his film to the audience. DIFF organisers said Stone described W. as "an attempt to trace seminal events in the American president's life, offering a behind-the-scenes view of Bush's development as a person and as a politician".
Masoud Amralla al Ali, the artistic director for DIFF, said: "W. is one of the great films of 2008 and we are happy to open DIFF with a film of topical relevance to so many of us." The film stars Josh Brolin, known for his role in the Oscar-winning film No Country for Old Men, who plays the title role. Elizabeth Banks, previously seen in Spider-Man 3, plays Laura Bush, while Richard Dreyfuss plays Dick Cheney, the vice president, and Thandie Newton plays Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state.
Sayed Badreya, an American-Arab actor, appears as Saddam Hussein. DIFF has also announced its line-up for the Cinema of the World segment, featuring movies from different regions. Baz Luhrmann's epic Australia, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, is one of the highlights. But the gala screening for the section is Danny Boyle's film Slumdog Millionaire, the story of an 18-year-old tea boy at a call centre in Mumbai who is one question away from the top prize in the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
Steven Soderbergh's four-hour biopic Che tells how Che Guevara, the Argentinian revolutionary, became one of the key political figures of the 20th century. Benicio del Toro plays Guevara. Julianne Moore stars in Blindness, a tale of a world paralysed by a blindness epidemic. In the Arabian Nights section of the festival, the gala film is the world premiere of Al Mor Wa al Rumman (Pomegranates and Myrrh), the first feature by the Palestinian director, Najwa Najjar.
The documentary Vietato Sognare (Forbidden Childhood) will have its world premiere. It deals with the impact of conflict on young people growing up in the Palestinian Territories through the words of Ali Abu Awwad, a former resistance fighter, and Elik el-Hanan, a former Israeli soldier. The Celebration of Indian Cinema section features films by leading directors such Adoor Gopalakrishnan. The fifth edition of DIFF will run from Dec 11 to 18. The organisers are next week expected to announce the list of stars from Hollywood, Bollywood and Arab cinema who will be attending.