Water director Deepa Mehta Gets Standing Ovation after Film’s Gala Screening at DIFF

Tue Dec 13,2005

Dubai, December 14, 2005: Cinema connoisseurs, celebrity watchers and Dubai glitterati have been flocking to the nightly gala screenings of the ongoing Dubai International Film Festival, producing full houses and standing ovations on the first few nights. Following a star-studded opening night attended by celebrities from around the world, the Festival’s second night gala Water drew large attendance from the regional Indian community and a strong turnout of international and industry guests. Indo-Canadian director Deepa Mehta received a standing ovation at the end of the screening. The Indian-born and Toronto-based film director and screenwriter dubbed the voice of new India said she was moved by the response to the film. “When I see the response to my film in Dubai and elsewhere it really makes me happy,” she said. “Making films about our country and its negative aspects, being willing to expose the reality and improve upon it, shows our confidence and maturity as Indians.” Water, which follows the fate of widows in 1940s India, ignited a firestorm of controversy there, with right-wing fundamentalist groups staging protests, burning down film sets and threatening cast and crew members until production was moved to Sri Lanka. Rather than dissuade the filmmaker, the setbacks spurred Mehta to complete the film. “Water is based on a specific incident in 1938, but it has a universal message,” she said of the controversy generated. “The misinterpretation of religion is a global phenomenon today, and that is exactly why this film had to be made. No matter which religion we are talking about, the misrepresentation by a few can paint an entire culture or body of people in a negative light.” A second-time attendee to DIFF, Mehta said she was impressed with the Festival’s growth spurt and inclusion of more international and Arab cinema. The Dubai Film Festival’s schedule of nightly galas continued its heady streak last night (Tuesday, December 13) with strong attendance for Austrian-Belgian film L’Enfant, and a sell-out crowd for tonight’s (Wednesday) gala Edison. Tickets are going fast but still available for the last two galas – African best-selling film U-Carmen eKhayelitsha (Carmen in Khayelitsha) and closing gala Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas). The second Dubai International Film Festival ends Saturday, December 17, and features 98 films including features, retrospectives and short films. Tickets and an entire schedule of the Festival films are available on the Dubai Film Festival website, and at Festival box offices around the city. The Festival is presented by Dubai Media City and its Founding Sponsors are Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Properties, Emirates, Etisalat and the Madinat Jumeirah – the Arabian Resort. The Festival’s Gold Sponsors are Bin Hendi Enterprises, National Bank of Dubai, Showtime, The Kanoo Group and The Palm Jumeirah; the Silver Sponsors are Filmworks, Motivate Publishing and Sony.

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