DUBAI // The curtain rises today on the seventh Dubai International Film Festival (Diff), which showcases 157 international films from 57 countries.
The festival will feature contemporary Arab cinema from Iraq, Morocco, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt as well as three world premieres by Palestinian filmmakers.
Films from Iran are also scheduled, and there will be 14 films made by Emiratis competing at the first Muhr Emirati award. Participants include 24-year-old Abdulla Khalifa AlKaabi, of Fujairah, who created the 17-minute The Philosopher for Dh1 million, the most expensive short film in Europe this year.
As part of its mandate to develop the local and regional film industry, Diff has opened its doors to film students in the UAE and across the region. Diff-accredited students can take part in workshops, panel discussions, master classes, networking sessions and screenings.
Romantic comedies, dramas and thrillers from Hollywood are also included in the line-up.
The American actor and director Sean Penn, whose career spans nearly three decades and more than 45 films, will be honoured with the Diff Lifetime Achievement Award at today's opening ceremony.
Diff will also host a question-and-answer session with Penn tomorrow nigh. The "In Conversation With" session will be held at the First Group Theatre in Madinat Jumeirah from 7pm to 8pm.
* With additional reporting from Anna Seaman