Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 October 2020

Australian director Fred Schepisi blown away by Dubai

In the absence of stars Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche, the Words and Pictures director held the fort at the red carpet and had high praise for Dubai.
Australian director Fred Schepisi on the red carpet with his wife for the premiere of his film Words and Pictures. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Australian director Fred Schepisi on the red carpet with his wife for the premiere of his film Words and Pictures. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
DUBAI // The Australian director, Fred Schepisi, held the fort at the red carpet gala screening of his latest film, Words and Pictures, in the absence of leading actors Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche.

After the earlier fanfare of the Dubai International Film Festival's prestigious Muhr Awards ceremony, the walkway to the Madinat Arena theatre looked a little sparse.

But Schepisi, whose credits include Last Orders, Roxanne, Plenty and Six Degrees of Separation, chatted happily ahead of his latest feature.

"It's a wonderful film and one I'm very proud of," said the 73-year-old filmmaker. "Working with Clive and Juliette was great. They are professionals and, although it was a serious film, they were so much fun to collaborate with.

"If they messed up, they would break into fits of laughter, sometimes for no reason whatsoever. They have very different acting methods but it somehow just worked."

Schepisi also said that although the story of a writer and artist was not in any way autobiographical, being married to an artist certainly helped during filming.

Following its acclaimed world premiere as a gala presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival, the adult romance has been well received on the festival circuit.

"I've seen a few red carpets but Dubai has just blown us away," Schepisi said.

"I've done a few transit runs through the airport here but I've never had the pleasure of seeing it for real. I am astounded.

"The way the old architecture meets the new is just breathtaking. What a place.

"When they called and asked if the movie could be a gala screening, I think I almost bit their proverbial hands off."

Owen, playing a failing writer and struggling artist, and Binoche clash at the school where they both teach, sparking a flamboyant courtship and a school-wide war.

Words and Pictures is an uplifting, crowd-pleasing film about teachers who change the lives of their pupils and each other with their passions for learning, life and the arts.

"I'm very interested to see how the audience in Dubai receives the movie, especially because it's about words and pictures in a place where the first language isn't English," Schepisi said. "It's a true test of the film."

The film festival finishes today. For more information visit www.dubaifilmfest.ae.

newsdesk@thenational.ae

Updated: December 13, 2013 04:00 AM

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