DIFF presents awards to Morgan Freeman, Adel Imam, Yash Chopra and the late Mustafa Akkad

Thu Dec 15,2005

Dubai, December 15, 2005: Hollywood legend Morgan Freeman, Egyptian superstar Adel Imam, Indian cinema doyen Yash Chopra and the late Mustafa Akkad were honoured and presented with awards at a ceremony today during the 2nd Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF).

Welcoming the guests, Neil Stephenson, CEO and Festival Director, said: “In the Spotlight this year, we are honouring film making giants and legends for their impact on world cinema. This is our way of paying tribute to legends from Arab cinema, Indian cinema and Hollywood for their contribution to the movie industry. We think it is fitting that Dubai hosts such a festival using its multi-cultural background and its position at the crossroads of the east and west. We aim to promote a better understanding between the Arab and non-Arab world, the Islamic and non-Islamic world. Our festival has proven that Dubai is an excellent destination for world cinema and that films serve as a medium to cross international cultural bridges.”

Neil then invited Raouf Tewfik, the co-programmer of the Festival’s In The Spotlight section in Arabic, to present the DIFF award to Egyptian superstar Adel Imam. Tewfik felt proud as an Egyptian, a producer and as a writer to present the award to legendary star Adel Imam. He introduced Imam as the “hugely popular artist amongst Arabs, the only one who can easily claim a place in the hearts of his millions of fans. The king of comedy for over 30 years, Imam has also fought injustice and corruption in movies, aligned himself to social and political issues and remained a true intellectual.”

Imam took the stage after a resounding, five-minute applause that reflected his popularity in the Arab world. He said, “In school, I topped the class through elementary school, secondary school and the college of agriculture. My acting used to give my father a lot of problems. He would not give me the keys of the house and every night when I would return late he would have to open the door. One day he asked me why I would come late. I asked him if he ever read the papers and knew how popular his son was. Today I wish my father was here to see that I am in the company of such greats as Morgan Freeman and Yash Chopra. He would have been so proud of me. I thank god for making me an artist, a creator.”

“Today terrorism is clouding the world but it is festivals such as these with their international message that can help us reach people. We will continue on our path of creativity to make the world a better place,” Adel Imam added.

Hannah Fisher, DIFF Programmer for the Asian section was called upon to honour Indian cinema doyen Yash Chopra. She said, “When DIFF invited me to honour Yash Chopra, I was very thrilled since I have been his great fan and follower. It gives me great pleasure to publicly express what a colossus Chopra is, in India and abroad. His is a producer, writer, director, in short the man who can do everything. His latest achievement is the setting up of his own post production house. He is also the man behind creating the ‘angry young man’ portrayed by Amitabh Bachchan.”

“Chopra is part of the old world charm, the world of love, passion and beauty. His touch is seen in the lush landscapes, beautiful strong women in flowing sarees and the riotious fields of flowers in his films. He does not make movies with a calculator but he believes in making films from the heart. Who would not fall in love with a man who can write, direct and produce such a magnificent film like Veer Zaara?” Fisher presented Chopra with the award to a rousing applause.

He said: “I began as an apprentice almost 54 years ago. I believe in making films on human relations, on love. Because love can never go out of fashion. At this very moment there must be millions of people saying I love you. I always dreamt of having my own studio because I was not satisfied with the environment. Now I have my own studio and it is a dream coming true. I truly believe cinema is the only art today. Anyone can follow a good film; there is no need to know the language. The slogan ‘Bridging Cultures, Meeting Minds’ is so appropriate for cinema. I want to thank DIFF for the affection I have received here and if there is anything that they need me for, they can count on me to provide support.”

Festival director Stephenson said it would take forever to introduce a star with the stature of Morgan Freeman. Three-time Oscar nominee, Freeman received his Best Supporting Actor Academy Award earlier this year for the film Million Dollar Baby. His latest film Edison, starring Kevin Spacey, is part of DIFF’s gala selection.

Waiting for the applause to die down, Freeman said: “I would like to thank the Dubai International Film Festival for inviting me and helping me widen my horizons beyond my own reach. This Festival has been such a wonderful opportunity for me and my colleagues in Hollywood to join hands with the east and bridge minds and cultures. I don’t have any words and just want to say a heartfelt thank you.” The late Mustafa Akkad’s son received the Lifetime Achievement award on behalf of his father. He said, “My father would have been very proud to receive this award. With his work and life, he helped create bridges between cultures. He would have been so happy to see himself amongst friends like Adel Imam and distinguished people like Morgan Freeman and Yash Chopra.”

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