DIFF Meets Raya

Wed Oct 02,2013

MBC’s Raya Abi Rached who is the host of TV show Scoop and the hit TV talent show Arabs Got Talent joins Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) for the 10th edition of the Festival, which takes place from December 6th to 14th, 2013. The London-based celebrity journalist, presenter and producer has been a regular figure reporting from red carpets across the world, but has also generated a huge following as host of Arabs Got Talent, one of the biggest shows in the region. Already a longtime DIFF attendee, Raya will this year be coming aboard as part of the team. We spoke to her shortly after she got back from the Toronto Film Festival.

How was Toronto?

I saw loads of good stuff, it was great. 12 Years a Slave is going to be an Oscar winner. There was also Labor Day, Devil’s Knot, Prisoners; loads of great, great films. I usually focus on the celebrity films, but what’s good about Toronto is that they’ve got the good quality movies, together with the stars.

Welcome to the DIFF team. What is it you’re going to be doing at the festival?

I’m going to be the master of ceremonies for both the opening and closing as well as on the red carpet interviewing the filmmakers and celebrities. It’s going to be a little bit tricky for me as I’ve got the big finale of Arabs Got Talent, so I’m going to be like a James Bond girl flying between Dubai and Beirut.

You’ve been coming to DIFF for some time. Which was your first year?

I went the first four years consistently. Then I stopped for a couple of years and came back for the Tom Cruise interview in 2011. I also attended last year to film a festival special and host the IWC Schaffhausen event in which Cate Blanchett who was head of the jury of the IWC Filmmaker Award, presented the award to Maysoon Pachachi, director of “Nothing Doing in Baghdad”.

Have there been any particularly highlights over the years?

George Clooney, Morgan Freeman! I remember the first year was special because it was the beginning of something very exciting. There was a lot of enthusiasm and then the fourth year George Clooney came. I’ve interviewed George Clooney everywhere in the world and it was nice to speak to him in Dubai, the same with Tom Cruise. It was great to see them so impressed by the city. Last year with Cate Blanchett we both had to fly back to London because I had to interview her again for The Hobbit. That was another sort of a James Bond movement.

Do you have any favourite celebrity interviews?

I’ve just spoken to George Clooney again in Venice for Gravity and he’s wonderful. He’s got this charisma to him that is very special. I have to say that recently I’ve also realised that Hugh Jackman is so fabulous; he’s so nice in interviews. I had the flu in Toronto – and I was very contagious and I had an interview with him for Prisoners. I’d seen him three weeks before for Wolverine and he was like ‘come here!’ and opened his arms. And to my dismay I had to decline the hug because I was so contagious. It was funny. But he’s lovely and he’s having a wonderful career at the moment and he’s really the nicest man.

This year is DIFF’s 10th anniversary. Is there anything that you’re particular looking forward to?

I hope it’s going to be a landmark event for them. What has happened over the past 10 years is that we’ve seen this flourishing of a local Arab cinema industry and DIFF have been a part of that. We now have names that we can be proud of namedropping in the Arab world and it is with the presence of a festival like Dubai that things like that have become possible. Of course, we bring celebrities and it’s very nice. But we’re bringing an identity to our own cinema. For me, this is very important.

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