DOHA, Qatar -- Robert De Niro and film talent from Qatar, the Arab world and international cinema all walked the red carpet for the opening of the fourth Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF), the annual cultural event from the Doha Film Institute.
De Niro is expected on the red carpet later in the festival as David O Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, in which the veteran actor stars alongside Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, will unspool.
The Tribeca stalwart is also to be the center of attention at one of the DTFF's Doha Talks where he will chat about his career.
The eight day event got under way with the opening gala of Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist held at Souq Waqif in the Qatari city.
Partially funded by the Doha Film Institute and based on Mohsin Hamid's novel, Nair was joined on the red carpet by Ami Boghani, script co-writer, musician and actress Meesha Shafi, and Abu Muhammad and Fariduddin Ayaz, the Qawwal Brothers, who composed the film’s soundtrack.
Local Qatari talent, this year bringing 19 films to the event, was well represented at the opening ceremony, with Abdulaziz Jassem, Abdulla Ghifan, Ali Mirza Mahmoud, Fahad Al Kubaisi, Ghazi Hussain and Salah Al Mulla among those rocking their own backyard.
The Arab film world was repped from the Gulf States region by Bassam Al-Thawadi, Habib Ghuloom Al Attar, Haifa Hussain, Nayla Al Khajaand Tareq Al Ali, and from Egypt by Yosra, Nelly Kareem, Khaled El Nabawyand Khaled Abol Naga, among others.
And the festival's Arab film competition strand jury members including Tunisian actress Hend Sabry, Indian director Ashutoush Gowarikar, Turkish filmmaker Yesim Ustaoglu and Algerian author Mohammed Moulessehoul also set local media abuzz.
Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker Haifaa Al Mansour also showed for glitzy opening.
The opening ceremony featured a music performance by Shafi, who was later joined by the Qawwal Brothers, who performed from the soundtrack of The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
Nair's opening film, debuting in the Middle East and North Africa region, was screened in four venues and watched by over 2,000 people.
Qatari Minister of culture, arts and heritage his Excellency Hamad bin Abdel Aziz Al Kuwari said: "Film has the power to shape opinion and influence people, and through this year’s large showcase of Arab films, the festival can help address prevailing misconceptions about the region."
DTFF vice chair and member of the Qatari rulers his Excellency Issa Bin Mohammed Al-Mohannadi took the opportunity to position his festival in the Middle East.
"The festival establishes Qatar as the prominent cultural destination of the region and serves as a platform to highlight the strong cultural identity of our nation," he said.
"All through the year, DFI will continue to work towards strengthening the film industry, not just in Qatar but across the Middle East and North Africa region, through an array of awareness, education and financing initiatives."
And last but by no means least, Doha Film Institute CEO Abdulaziz Al Khater said: "With the festival, we are underlining our nation’s commitment to strengthen our cultural infrastructure, support talent, promote creativity and promote intercultural dialogue. The festival is a true reflection of the forward looking vision of our wise leadership and highlights the creative strides made by Qatari and Arab talent."
Over the next seven days, the festival plans to host over 200 screenings of more than 87 films from 34 nations across the three venues including at Souq Waqif, Katara Cultural Village and the Museum of Islamic Arts.