Plus: Angelina Jolie to video-chat with fans; Patrick Dempsey likely to stay on Grey's Anatomy; new Iraqi art initiative hosts Dubai exhibit; Aamir Khan signs with electoral reform NGO; Arab Film Studio's Shot Film finalists named; and Dhobi Ghat earns UK Bafta nod.
Today in entertainment: India dominates Man Asian book prize shortlist
Asia's top English-language book prize yesterday released its shortlist of seven authors vying for the Dh110,000 award. Three Indian writers dominated the list: Jahnavi Barua's Rebirth, which is about a young woman faced with an uncertain marriage; Rahul Bhattacharya's The Sly Company of People Who Care, describing a man's escape from the deadness of his job; and Amitav Ghosh's River of Smoke, charting the storm-tossed journey of a convict ship from Calcutta to China.
The head judge and BBC correspondent Razia Iqbal said in a statement that the shortlist had been expanded from its usual five to accommodate "the imaginative power of the stories now being written about rapidly changing life" in the region, AFP reported.
Also vying for the prize are The Wandering Falcon, the debut novel of the Islamabad author Jamil Ahmad; Please Look After Mom by the acclaimed South Korean writer Kyung-sook Shin; Dream of Ding Village by the Chinese novelist Yan Lianke; and The Lake by the top-selling Japanese author Banana Yoshimoto.
The Man Asian Literary Prize, limited to books either written in or translated into English, will be announced in Hong Kong on March 15.
Angelina Jolie to video-chat with fans
Fans of Angelina Jolie will have an opportunity to talk to the actress through her first live video chat, happening tomorrow at 5am UAE time.
The chat, set to run for close to an hour, will focus on her directorial debut in the Golden-Globe-nominated film In the Land of Blood and Honey.
"I'm thrilled that it will reach such a diverse audience," Jolie said.
To take part in the chat, one must have a Facebook account, then visit www.marieclaire.com to request a slot. Jolie appears on Marie Claire's cover this month.
Patrick Dempsey likely to stay on Grey's Anatomy
Grey's Anatomy viewers can heave a sigh of relief: McDreamy is staying on. Patrick Dempsey, who plays the surgeon Derek Shepherd on the ABC-TV series, told the Boston Herald that he would continue to appear in the show on one condition: that he could take time off for motor-racing.
"The biggest point for me in negotiations is getting time off to come race," Dempsey said on Sunday at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. "So if I don't miss races, I'll probably stay."
The actor, who turns 46 tomorrow, is up for contract negotiations with ABC this year. "I enjoy the show," he added. "It keeps me in town so I can be around my family."
New Iraqi art initiative hosts Dubai exhibition
In the Frame hosts its inaugural exhibition at the Showcase Gallery on Jumeirah Beach Road in Dubai, from today until Saturday. The show includes work by major luminaries from recent Iraqi art history, including Dia Azzawi and Mahmoud Obaidi, alongside emerging talent such as the photographer Tamara Abdul Hadi and UAE resident Reem Al Qaisy.
The project's objective is to raise money for The Young Mesopotamians, a UK-based initiative looking to foster the next generation of Iraqi talent, via a live auction to be held on Saturday at 6.30pm.
In the Frame's Khatija Sacranie said they were trying to bring in lecturers from leading US universities to mentor young Iraqi artists. "The programme is going to start around May at Baghdad University," said Sacranie. "That's what we're trying to fund. The lecturers will go to Iraq for a four-week period."
Aamir Khan signs with electoral reform NGO
The Bollywood star Aamir Khan has taken up the cause of electoral reforms in India, signing up with the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), an NGO that designs voter-awareness campaigns and reveals the assets and sometimes the criminal backgrounds of India's politicians.
The ADR has been circulating a video message from Khan, urging voters to scrutinise their political representatives as closely as they would prospective grooms for their daughters. Khan also works for Unicef as national ambassador for nutrition and child rights, as well as for the Indian tourism ministry's Incredible India campaign.
Arab Film Studio's Short Film finalists named
Image Nation Abu Dhabi, the film production arm of The National's parent company, Abu Dhabi Media, yesterday announced the finalists of the first Arab Film Studio's Short Film Competition, a project run in partnership with twofour54 tadreeb, the media training academy. The six filmmakers, all Emiratis, are Eisa Al Sabousi, Fatima Al Dhaheri, Khalid Al Abdulla, Mariam Khanji, Omar Butti and Sarah Al Ameri. They will take part in a three-month training programme culminating with one winner being awarded Dh50,000 to develop a feature screenplay for Image Nation.
The Arab Film Studio was launched to train and foster budding Emirati filmmakers.
Dhobi Ghat earns UK Bafta nod
Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries), the directing debut of Kiran Rao, has been longlisted in the non-English films category of the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (Bafta). It will compete with 14 other films. The second round of voting will shortlist only five contenders, to be announced on Tuesday.
Rao released Dhobi Ghat in January last year and it stars her husband Aamir Khan.