Sir Ben Kingsley was presented with an Honorary Black Pearl Award for Cross Cultural Contributions to Cinema by His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Khalid bin Sultan Al Nahyan,
In his best-known film role to date – Gandhi – Sir Ben is a guest of the festival on the occasion of the inaugural Middle East screening of the first Arabic-dubbed version of the film.
MEIFF’s Vice Chairman and ADACH’s Director General, His Excellency Mohamed Khalaf Al Mazrouei said:
“Mahatma Gandhi’s message of peace was universal, and as the messenger of this intention in the film, Sir Ben Kingsley has immortalised this great man for generations to come.”
“With the Arabic dub of Gandhi now on screens, it is hoped that Sir Ben’s intimate portrayal of one of the world’s truly charismatic leaders will reach across national and language barriers, inspiring an entirely new generation of regional cinema audiences,” Al Mazrouei added.
For the very first time, MEIFF also honoured three international film producers – for their commitment to the development and production of socially-responsible cinema.
Jeff Skoll, former President and Co-founder of ebay, has utilised the wealth this position gave him to fund the independent LA-based movie production company, Participant Productions. The company was instrumental in funding what they term ‘The Ghandi Project’ – with Skoll’s support Gandhi was dubbed using Palestinian voice actors and will be screened throughout Palestine to promote non-violence, self-reliance, economic development and empowerment.
As Chairman of National Geographic Films, who yesterday announced a multi-year deal with Abu Dhabi’s Imagenation, Jake Ebert is known for his risk-taking and production of consistently high-calibre movies. These include the award-winning Chariots of Fire, Ghandi and Dances with Wolves. He was awarded with the Order of Canada in 1992 and to date he has been associated with films garnering 66 Oscar nominations, including nine for Best Picture.
Kamran Elahian, Chairman and Co-founder of Global Catalyst Partners, actively seeks out visionary entrepreneurial leaders with innovative, competitive ideas – an ideal partner for Abu Dhabi and its vision for the bright global and regional film industry future.
To conclude the evening, a Tribute Dinner was held in L’Auberge Restaurant at Emirates Palace dedicated to Tunisian director Nacer Khemir. In recognition of Khemir’s unequivocal contribution to the development of Arab cinema, His Excellency Mohamed Khalaf Al Mazrouei presented him with a special MEIFF tribute award.
Khemir’s seminal film Tawq Al-Hamama Al-Mafqoud (The Dove’s Lost Necklace) is being screened throughout this year’s festival programme.
MEIFF’s Director, Nashwa Al Ruwaini said the decision to present these leading industry figures with tribute awards for their significant contributions to cinema was a natural one.
“We believe truthful messages should always be continued across generations, and that film is an important medium for the message of understanding. It is our aim with the presentation of these special tribute awards to revive an interest in the importance of communication between cultures through cinema, and to highlight MEIFF’s role within that paradigm,” Al Ruwaini added.
A celebration of cinema, dedicated to bringing a diverse programme of international films to the UAE’s unique multicultural community, MEIFF 2008 will run from the 10th to 19th October on Friday 10th October with an expanded 10-day festival programme.
Sunday, October 12- 2008 @ 16:17 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.