The Dubai International film festival opened with the latest Mission Impossible movie ‘Ghost Protocol’ on the 7th of December accompanied by its director Brad Bird and stars, Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg and Paula Patton. Parts of this latest MI film were shot in Dubai, and Dubai also helped finance the film which cost $140 million dollars, so it seemed apt to premiere in this Emirate City.

Brad Bird, Tom Cruise, Paula Patton and Simon Pegg!

This 4th MI movie is based around the Kremlin, where the team are instructed to retrieve documents from inside that contain nuclear codes that could start a world war. The film promises lots of high-end action with a thrilling sandstorm scene that shows Cruise climbing up the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.

The film festival this year featured 171 films including 78 Middle Eastern premieres, 25 International premieres and 48 world premieres from 56 nations. Competing this year for the Muhr Awards and the $600,000 prize money are 89 of these films. The film headlining the world section this year was the long awaited comedy ‘The Descendents’ starring George Clooney and produced by Alexander Payne.

Most Arab countries were featured in this years Middle Eastern section with the Lebanon representing the lion’s share which involved various narrative documentaries and feature films. Among the premieres were Daniel Joseph’s debut feature ‘Taxi Ballad’, Danielle Arbid’s drama ‘Beirut Hotel’ and  a war drama called ‘Tannoura Maxi’ (Heels of War) by Youcef Joe Bou Eid’s.

Palestine made a comeback after being absent for a year with quite a few, but the most talked about were Arab Language films, ‘Qays and Layla’  a fiction movie based in Gaza, the first in more than 15 years, and a modern twist to a traditional Arab fable ‘Habibi’ by Susan Youssef.

Two films were shown about the Arab Spring, ‘No More Fear’ about the Jasmine revolution by Mourad Ben Cheikh, and ‘The Sun’s Incubator’ by Ammar Al-Beik about the Syrian uprising.

A host of stars from around the world will be gracing Dubai’s red carpet in the next few days. Owen Wilson will be awarded Variety’s International Star of the Year, German film director Werner Herzog will be given the Lifetime Achievement prize alongside A. R. Rahman, Indian composer of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and huge Egyptian acting star Gamil Rateb.

Peter Wier (Oscar nominee) the Australian film director will authorize the Muhr Arab jury who include, Egyptian actor Amr Waked,  and German Film producer Emily Atef.

Egyptian actress Lebleba with famous Egyptian actor Jamil Rateb!

Other famous guests included, Egyptian actress Lebleba with famous Egyptian actor Jamil Rateb, Danish model Helena Christensen, Indian stars Priyanka Chopra and Shah Rukh Khan, and Alexander Payne (The Descendants).

The festival this year ends on December the 14th 2011!