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Kermit makes rainbow connection

Alex Ritman

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DUBAI // There has been no shortage of screaming at the Dubai International Film Festival, mainly for Tom Cruise and Shahrukh Khan, but yesterday the noise was for celebrities of a more furry variety.

The Muppets Movie, the first outing for the late Jim Henson's much-loved puppet creations in 12 years, was given a special gala screening that saw hundreds of excited children, and a fair few equally excited adults, flock to Madinat Jumeirah.

Unfortunately, the stars of the film, which sees the Muppets regroup for a big show after going their separate ways, could not make it to the red carpet.

"I think they sadly have other duties elsewhere in the world," said the director James Bobin. "I believe they may be in South America."

Despite not being there, the most famous Muppet of all did make time to record a special welcome message for the local audience.

"Shukran, Dubai!" bellowed Kermit the Frog from the main screen. "We're are really excited to be here at the 8th annual Dubai International Film Festival."

For Bobin, one of the most joyous parts of making the film was that he could introduce the Muppets to his four-year-old daughter. "To me they've always been around but it just felt weird that she didn't know who they were, so I'm delighted to have made a film that she can watch with me," he said.

Masoud Al Ali, the festival's artistic director, also remembers the Muppets as part of his youth.

"We grew up with them, but especially on our side we grew up with Kamel, who was the Arabic version of Kermit," Mr Al Ali said. "It lives in everybody's memory."

Opinions over favourite characters were divided mainly between the two biggest names, Kermit and Miss Piggy.

For Mr Al Ali and for Bobin it was Kermit. But the director understood why many went for the blonde-haired diva.

"She's got a very forceful personality and I think girls in particular prefer her because she sticks up for herself," said Bobin. "She has great belief in her own talent, even though she's not that good."

Bobin was also behind the camera for the TV shows Flight of the Conchords and Ali G.

The festival's Cinema for Children section continues today, with screenings of Arthur Christmas and the German offering Wickie and the Treasure of the Gods.

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