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Friday, December 17, 2010

Dubai International Film Fest 2010 Opening Ceremony

So, I'm now at Dubai. Today, my film EXHALATION will finally have its world premiere at the Dubai Film Fest.

But this will chronicle my first day in the place.

Here are some pretty photos of me right before the opening ceremony on the 12th of December, courtesy of Indonesian documentary filmmaker Daniel Rudi Haryanto.

Me, before the opening ceremony

At the Dubai Film Fest opening ceremony

I waited attentively for the ceremony to start.

Waiting for the Opening ceremony

But before I get to that, I will rewind to the 11th of December, right before I headed off to the airport, I met up with an old friend.

This is what I wrote on my Facebook.

11th of December, 2010. I was about to leave for Dubai. Back to where it all began. Two years ago, the Dubai International Film Fest was the first film fest i attended as a director, two years later, this is a homecoming of sorts for me.

it was 4 in the evening, I carried my luggage with me and went to Ikebukuro, one station away from my place. I was supposed to catch the 6pm train to Narita airport, and an unexpected old friend was the one to see me off. I had only 90 minutes, I met up with Ying Yi Soh , who had just transferred to Tokyo for work.

Before she went off to Singapore, during our first few years in secondary school, Ying Yi was one of the few I could talk about regarding a fantasy novel that I was writing. It's almost fitting that when I return to the film festival that played a role in launching my career, I managed to meet up with her.

This photo was taken after we hung out at McD's and I headed off to take the train. The last rays of sunlight have dissipated, the sky was rapidly shifting from dark blue top black, sources of illumination came solely from neon lights of buildings and also streetlights

"Well, after I return to Tokyo on the 20th of Dec, it'll be until the end of January when I head off to Rotterdam (Netherlands), let's hang out sometime." I said to her.

I waved to her, took a step backwards, narrowly avoided a cyclist who almost ran into me. I cursed at the cyclist.

Then I headed off.

Aye, it was a Facebook status of much eloquence.

Here's my friend Ying Yi busy staring at her Blackberry hanging her head in sadness at my impending departure.

Ying Yi

It's always good to have someone sending me off, really.

With Ying Yi outside Ikebukuro Station

After hanging out briefly with her, I headed back to the Ikebukuro Station, waiting for the Narita Express to the airport.

Ikebukuro Station

Waiting for Narita Express

I arrived in Dubai at 5:30-ish in the morning and an airport attendant brought me to the Waiting Lounge.

Waiting lounge at the Dubai airport

They served me cookies and dates as they helped me wait for luggage (!!!).

cookies and dates served in the lounge

A car picked me up, we passed through the Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the world. It's been two years since I last came to Dubai, but things looked a little different. More buildings completed, less construction sites than before.



The sun was rising.

Outside Jumeirah Beach Hotel

There are waterways connected between each hotel at the Jumeirah resort, and one has to take the Abra (water taxi) to the place of our breakfast.

Taking the Abra


Dad and Philip.

Dad and Philip on the Abra

The scenery.

Madinat Jumeirah

Abra ride


Reached the Pai Thai restaurant of the Al-Qasr Hotel.

We had breakfast. Johnnie To, who was jury president in the competition section, was around having breakfast too.

Pai Thai restaurant

Having breakfast at Pai Thai restaurant

In the afternoon, I headed to Dubai Mall, which is just next to Burj "The Tallest Building in The World" Khalifa.

Inside Dubai Mall, there's The Waterfall. Which was gigantic.

The Waterfall in Dubai Mall

And a colossal Christmas Tree.


There was also the largest indoor aquarium, it had a Guinness World of Record plaque proclaiming its largeness. So I guess nothing in Dubai Mall's small at all.

Large Aquarium in Dubai Mall

Large Aquarium in Dubai Mall 2


Went out of the Dubai Mall to look at Burj "The tallest building in the world" Khalifa. Couldn't even fit the entire building into my frame.

Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa 2


Night fell. I headed off to the opening ceremony of Dubai Film Fest.

Madinat Arena at night

Mina Salam at night

Outside the screening hall, with Dad, Harumi and Liz.

With Harumi, dad and Liz

And my hero Johnnie To. Really friendly guy, was telling me about his next, soon-to-be-released film. (apparently it's NOT the Lau Ching Wan film)

With dad and Johnnie To

So the opening ceremony finally started.

The opening film was THE KING'S SPEECH, which I really enjoyed and I'll root for Colin Firth to win his Oscar next year. (it was also refreshing to see Helene Bonham Carter in a non-psycho role you often see in Tim Burton and Harry Potter films)

I then left for the opening party, walking down the red carpet.

Standing at the red carpet of Dubai Film Fest

And showing random people the film page of my film on the festival catalog.

Showing innocent bystanders my film page on fest catalog

Taking photos with innocent bystander

Ah. The Dubai International Film Festival.

Back to where it all began. (read this blog post for the photos of my first day in Dubai Intl film Fest 2008)

So many things have changed since I first came here 2 years ago. I wonder what has remain unchanged?

Casting my shadow over the red carpet

Probably liked camwhoring even more, hah.

Trying to blow out some candles

Heroic shot

Reached the venue of the party, a large tent at the beach, just like before.

At the opening party of Dubai Film Fest

Impressive display of fireworks occurred.


The opening party of Dubai Film Fest

I watched the 7-star hotel Burj Al Arab, gleaming with loveliness.

Burj, at night

There was then a Motown Cover Band performing.