Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Abu Dhabi Film Festival

The Abu Dhabi Film Festival takes place on October 14-23 and showcases films from Hollywood to Bollywood via the Middle East.
The Film Festival in Abu Dhabi has now been running for three years. The Festival opened with a gala screening of the Hollywood Film 'Secretariat'. There are Hollywood films, Arabic films, European and Indian films as well as documentaries and short films.

The film festival provides a unique opportunity to meet and chat with film stars, directors and producers. Actors such as Adrien Brody and Clive Owen have held question and answer sessions with the public. Screenings at the festival are also often attended by the film's creators which allows for discussion of the film at the end of the show. Patrons are also given the chance to vote on films and score how highly they thought of the film.

I was lucky enough to take an active part in the festival. I was recruited as a volunteer team leader. By pure fluke I got to work the opening gala, on the red carpet. The opening gala is a very glamorous affair, which was attended by celebrities, industry professionals and Sheikhs.

Of course during such an event I was expected to wear a suit. I'm not that comfortable in a suit at the best of times, but outside in the heat and under the stage lights for the red carpet, I struggled. Safe to say I kept my suit jacket on for the rest of the evening to hide the sweat patches.

After the film screening there was a private party for the gala guests which I managed to get into. It was great. I met lots of staff for the festival and also lots of Emiratis. I haven't met many Emiratis yet so I really appreciated meeting them. I drank too much wine but really enjoyed partying at the palace. Especially with Dizzie Rascal blazing out of the speakers.

Over the past few days I have been leading a team of volunteers at the Cinestar multiplex cinema in Abu Dhabi. I had to coordinate the volunteers, who help set up cinema, collect ticket stubs and so on. There were up to six screening at any one time and a constant turnover of films. It was busy but I really enjoyed the challenge. I also got to be constantly underwhelmed by all the Arabic and Indian celebrities walking past. You knew they were famous because they were giving TV interviews or had a huge entourage, but they could have just been Joe or Joanne Bloggs to me, I didn't recognise any of them.

All the volunteers I met were great. Most of them were in college or university and were all really interesting and ambitious. They were all studying law, medicine, engineering or something similar. Sometimes I did feel like a bit of a school teacher trying to maintain order, which I think I just about managed. It was funny watching the guys behave like clowns and trying to impress the girls. I don't miss school one bit!

I got to learn Swedish swearwords, talk about Bollywood actresses and talk a surprising amount about Manchester United. The volunteers all came from such interesting backgrounds, from all corners of the world. I'd never get to meet all these people if I just stayed at home in the UK.

The Film Festival was a great experience for me but I'm glad my participation is over. Working my normal job during the day and the festival during the evening really tired me out. However, I would definitely do it again next time.


  1. Wow, lucky you! :P

    I've been meaning to attend but last week was hectic. I might go to a screening tomorrow, just to experience the whole event since its my first time.

    Would you recommend any must see films?


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living in the United Arab Emirates