x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Star-studded premiere of The Way Back thrills Farrell fans

Second world premiere in as many months of a UAE-funded Hollywood film raises curtain at the Dubai International Film Festival.

The cast of the film The Way Back at the Dubai International Film Festival (from left to right): Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrell, director Peter Weir, Adel Al Redha, executive vice-president, Emirates. and Ed Harris.
The cast of the film The Way Back at the Dubai International Film Festival (from left to right): Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrell, director Peter Weir, Adel Al Redha, executive vice-president, Emirates. and Ed Harris.

DUBAI// The second world premiere in as many months of a UAE-funded Hollywood film raised the curtain last night at the Dubai International Film Festival.

The Way Back, which will be considered as a nominee for the Oscars ahead of its general release in January, was co-produced by Imagenation Abu Dhabi, the film production arm of Abu Dhabi Media Company, which publishes The National.

Walking the red carpet at the film festival ahead of the screening were Colin Farrell, Ed Harris, Jim Sturgess and Peter Weir.

There were plenty of screams from the fans who waited eagerly for the two young male stars Farrell and Sturgess to sign autographs and pose for pictures.

Harris, who is tipped by Awards Daily, an online magazine devoted to the film industry, as "a very very strong supporting actor contender" for the 2011 Oscars, was joined on the carpet by the chairman of the film festival, Abdulhamid Juma.They were joined by Arabic stars Rima Khcheich, a Lebanese singer, and Sherine Adel, who starred in the Egyptian movie 678.

Sheila Whitaker, the director of international programmes for the film festival, said The Way Back was an excellent film, with a great cast, from a well-respected director, no matter where its funding came from.

Whitaker, the former director of the London Film Festival, said: "In a sense, it doesn't matter where the film came from. Every film I select is there for a reason and this film has a great director, cast and a fascinating story.

"We choose films to give people something to think about," she said. "Also of course it fitted with the overall vision of the director of the festival, Masoud al Ali, who is very much dedicated to promoting Emirati talent and films."

The film chronicles the escape of a small group of multinational prisoners from a Siberian gulag in 1940, and their ensuing journey over thousands of miles across five countries, and is based on the true story written by Slawomir Rawicz, a Polish Second World War veteran.

Among the crowds of fans gathered on the red carpet to watch the film's stars attend the screening was a pair of 15-year-old British girls who had just received a pair of tickets from a generous passer by.

Harriet Sylvester, who is visiting her friend, Kitty Shafto, said she was thrilled to receive tickets to see one of her favourite movie stars.

"I am only here on holiday and I can't believe this is happening," she said. "I'm really excited to be able to see Colin Farrell and the movie."

Barbara Hastings, 56, also from the UK, said she wasn't as excited to see the stars as to see the film.

"It is an extraordinary story of survival, and I am looking forward to seeing Peter Weir's film. He has a wonderful reputation as a filmmaker," she said.

Theresa Puri, 31, who was born in Prague, said she was moved to tears: "I was very small when these events were taking place but the history is the background of my life. I felt very moved by the film."

aseaman@thenational.ae