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DUBAI: Politics and AIDS at film festival

December 16, 2008 |  8:20 am

Salma Movies aren't the only point of attraction at this year’s Dubai Film Festival.

In addition to being a venue for glamorous stars, the festival, which opened last week, has quickly become a platform for politics and controversy.

On Friday, a group of political activists showed up at the screening of a documentary on Palestinian rappers and called on the audience to boycott jewelry by an Israeli diamond mogul, who sells wares in boutiques in Dubai.

The group distributed T-shirts and flyers denouncing the jeweler, Lev Leviev, for allegedly supporting Jewish settlement in the West Bank, according to the local English-language daily, Gulf News.

Leviev reportedly owns a self-titled diamond label that has been selling in a number of high-end shops in Dubai for almost a year. 

In another hall of the festival, jewelry and other objects were being auctioned off for a cause, the fight against AIDS. Actress Salma Hayek started the auction by exhibiting a Cartier bracelet bearing her signature, which was sold for $80,000.

Goldie Hawn then auctioned a 1962 rare portrait of Marilyn Monroe signed by photographer Bert Stern for $40,000.

The auction of celebrity memorabilia raised $1.8 million for AmFAR, an American foundation conducting research on AIDS, according to the organizers.

Dubai's film festival, now in its fifth year, began Thursday with a screening of director Oliver Stone's movie, "W," about President George W. Bush.

A total of 181 films from 66 countries will be shown during the event, running until Thursday.

-- Raed Rafei in Beirut

Photo: Salma Hayek attends an auction at the Dubai Film Festival. Credit: Agence France-Presse

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