Festival kicks off Thursday with gala screening of Daniel Schechter’s Life of Crime.

Forest Whitaker will be among the guests when the Abu Dhabi Film Festival kicks off Thursday evening. Whitaker will receive the festival’s Black Pearl Career Achievement award.

The festival will open with a gala screening of the Middle East premiere of Life of Crime with director Daniel Schechter and actor Mark Boone Junior both in attendance and participating in an audience Q&A.

Another career achievement award winner will be actress and director Hiam Abbass, who stars in festival world premiere Peace After Marriage.

International guests will include Danis Tanovic, Amma Asante, Jia Zhangke, Beeban Kidron, Emir Baigazin, Agnes B, Cedomir Kolar, Uberto Pasolini, Tao Zhao, Eugene Domingo, Louis Garrel, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Catherine Dussart.

Arab stars set to attend ADFF include Mervat Amin, Hend Sabri, Ahmad Ezz, Basel Khayat, Eyad Nassar, Kinda Aloush, Abed Fahad, Manal Khader, Nesrine Tafesh, Lebleba, Khaled Abol Naga, Saleh Bakri, Asser Yassin, Abdel Monaam Chouaya and Samar Qahtan.

Merzak Allouache will receive the Variety Award for Middle East Filmmaker of the year.

Other Arab filmmakers coming to Abu Dhabi include Mohamed Jabarah Al-Daradji, Ahmad Abdallah, Ayten Amin, Moufida Tlatli and Mohammad Soueid.

Guests coming for the centenary of Indian Cinema include Anup Singh, Irrgan Khan, Richie Mehta, Aparna Sen, Moushumi Chatterjee, and Ashok Amritraj.

Stars from the Gulf region that attend this year’s Abu Dhabi Film Festival include Mohammed Al Mansour, Dawood Hussain, Huda Al Khatib, Khaled Ameen, Ahmed Iraj, Samera Ahmad, Ahmad Al Jasmi and Maisa Al Maghribi.

The Abu Dhabi Film Festival runs from Oct 24-Nov 2.