The 13th Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) today unveiled its full line-up of 156 films from 55 countries alongside a diverse industry program for filmmakers and executives at the Dubai Film Market (DFM), a strong competition and a rich slate of Special Presentations, Red Carpet Galas and exciting community events.
The Festival, which runs December 7th to 14th, 2016, spans feature, non-fiction, short films and includes an astonishing 57 world premieres and international premieres, 73 MENA premieres, 12 Middle East premieres and 9 GCC premieres. The films, crafted in more than 44 languages, populate DIFF’s Arab and Emirati competitions, and its out-of-competition segments dedicated to children, the Arab world, Virtual Reality and cinema from around the globe.
This year, DIFF’s Opening Night Gala on Wednesday, 7th December presents the international premiere of John Madden’s tense and topical political thriller, ‘Miss Sloane’ the story of a ruthless lobbyist starring Jessica Chastain who is notorious for her unparalleled talent and her desire to win at all costs, even when it puts her own career at risk. The thriller pulls back the curtain on how Capitol Hill games are played and won as Sloane faces off against the most influential powers in D.C.
Closing the curtain on what promises to be another spectacular Festival, DIFF’s Closing Night Gala will be one of the most anticipated releases of the year, ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’. From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” an all-new epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.
At its opening ceremony, DIFF will present three prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards, recognizing those individuals’ incredible contributions to cinema. The award will be presented to the American film icon Samuel L. Jackson, long-celebrated as one of cinema’s most talented and intuitive actors. With over four decades in the industry and featuring in more than 100 films, Jackson has crafted a diverse and successful career in Hollywood and beyond and earned multiple awards and accolades for his efforts. Also being recognized for their work is legendary Rekha, recognized as one of the greatest actresses in Hindi cinema with a wide-ranging and exciting career spanning 40 years and 180 films. The third award will also be presented to Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Grammy award-winning French Lebanese composer Gabriel Yared, an internationally acclaimed composer whose impressive filmography spans three decades.
DIFF’s ‘In Conversation’ event on Friday, 9th will be with Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson when industry and fans alike will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hear the actor’s cinematic story in the Madinat Souk Theatre.
In collaboration with OSN, TV fans can watch an episode of HBO’s latest epic hit series ‘Westworld’ the sci-fi thriller, followed by an ‘In Conversation’ with the show’s talent Jeffrey Wright and Luke Hemsworth on Sunday, 11th in the Madinat Souk Theatre.
For the fifth consecutive year, IWC Schaffhausen have collaborated with the DIFF to grant one talented filmmaker from the region the esteemed award and a cash prize of US$ 100,000. The nominees for 2016 are Emirati director Nujoom Al Ghanem with “Salem”, Qatari director Hafiz Ali Ali for the animated film “The Search for the Star Pearl” and Emirati filmmaker Abdullah Hassan Ahmed with “Sunrise”. An acclaimed jury of industry experts will determine the potential of each film project and select the winner at the exclusive IWC gala dinner on Thursday, 8th December 2016, at the One & Only Royal Mirage in Dubai.
Running concurrently with the DIFF, the Dubai Film Market (DFM) is a vital part of the festival and now considered the leading industry platform in the region and a gateway to the one of the fastest growing film and TV markets in the world. Throughout the week festival-goers can attend more than 25 panel discussions and events as part of DFM, including ‘In the Director’s Chair’ sessions with Academy Award and four-time BAFTA winning director Asif Kapadia and acclaimed director Lenny Abrahamson who received an Oscar nomination for DIFF’s opening night film last year ‘Room’. Further highlights include an ‘In Conversation’ with president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Cheryl Boone Isaacs.
Virtual Reality (VR) takes center stage at the Dubai Film Market this year in a section brand new to DIFF, ‘DIFFerent REALITY’, designed to give Festival-goers a window into the possibilities of virtual reality technology. Ten of the world’s most advanced VR films, including five world premieres, will provide an unmatched cinematic viewing experience at the DU VR Cinema powered by Samsung the program will celebrate some of the most exciting VR and augmented reality work to date, giving audiences the opportunity to experience an immersive journey into this boundary-pushing new world of technology. The lineup includes; The Machine to be Another: a multisensory interactive system designed by the interdisciplinary art/science collective “BeAnotherLab” as a tool for embodied-immersive storytelling and promotion of empathy and tolerance and DiVR – Blue Effect, an atmospheric sci-fi wave shooter that will thrill you, test your endurance and bravery!
The hugely popular and free-to-attend Beach Screenings in partnership with Meraas return to DIFF this year to bring the community together to share a night of film under the stars. On the Festival’s opening night, December 7th, film fans at THE BEACH opposite JBR will be able to watch all the action live from the red carpet as it unfolds. THE BEACH will then go on to host the premiere of Jordan Robert’s American adventure comedy-drama ‘Burn Your Maps’ starring Vera Farmiga and Jacob Tremblay.
On December 8th, THE BEACH will show the stunning animated masterpiece ‘The Red Turtle’ from Michaël Dudok de Wit which picked up Special Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year along with many other accolades. Lutz Gregor’s beautiful and soulful documentary ‘Mali Blues’ will show on the 9th featuring live performances.
‘A Fistful of Dollars’, the classic 1964 spaghetti western film directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood in his first leading role will screen on the 10th. The film is one of 90 titles to have been restored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA).
Iman Kamel’s creative and compelling documentary ‘Egyptian Jeanne d’Arc‘ on the 11th followed by a live performance and one of the most beautiful films ever to be shot, Otto Bell’s ‘Eagle Huntress’ will screen at THE BEACH on December 12th.
To mark its 40th anniversary, THE BEACH will play host to the 1966 American superhero film ‘Batman’ on December 13th, based on the television series and the first full-length theatrical adaptation of the DC Comics character Batman. The film was directed by Leslie H. Martinson and stars Adam West as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Burt Ward as Dick Grayson/Robin.
The Space Between Us, a romantic science fiction adventure drama film directed by Peter Chelsom and starring Asa Butterfield and Gary Oldman closes DIFF’s Beach Screenings on the 14th.
In support of UNICEF’s incredible work for a world in which every child has a fair chance in life and to mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, DIFF will screen a UNICEF short film ahead of every Beach Screening focusing on children who are affected by the Syrian crisis. The series entitled “In their own voice: aspirations of Syria’s children amid uncertain future”, offers a chance for children to speak about their dreams and ambitions with a focus on the importance of education.
Adding a touch of sparkle to proceedings, DIFF cinemagoers will be treated to numerous Red Carpet Galas, which start rolling on Thursday 8th December with the World Premiere of ‘Befikre’, the Hindi romantic comedy from Aditya Chopra starring Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor and will be followed by Two-time Oscar winner Ang Lee who brings his extraordinary vision to ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’, based on the widely-acclaimed bestselling novel.
Friday 9th will present a triple bill of screenings at the Arena beginning with a Children’s Gala for ‘Swallows and Amazons’, the ultimate family adventure film directed by Philippa Lowthorpe and based on the popular children’s books of the 1930s and 1940s. This will be followed by Emirati director Ali F. Mostafa’s third feature film the dystopian thriller ‘The Worthy’ and Lone Scherfig’s British romantic comedy ‘Their Finest’ starring Gemma Arterton, Bill Nighy and Sam Claflin.
The 10th plays host to 4 gala screenings, DIFF’s Saturday Madinat morning arena screening is the 3D computer-animated comedy family film ‘Rock Dog’ directed by Ash Brannon featuring the voices of Luke Wilson and J.K Simons. The dazzling romantic musical comedy-drama ‘La La Land’ written and directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and J. K. Simmons will light up the Arena screen in the afternoon. The evening galas opens with the provocative Egyptian drama ‘The Preacher’ directed by Magdy Ahmed Aly and starring Amr Saad, Dorra Zarrouk and Ahmed Magdy and John Lee Hancock’s ‘The Founders’ – a biographical drama about the founder of McDonald’s starring Michael Keaton in the title role closes the day.
‘Manchester By The Sea’, a highly acclaimed American drama directed and written by Kenneth Lonergan and starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams is first up on Sunday 11th. The World Premiere of the Lebanese comedy ‘Solitaire’ from director Sophie Boutros and starring Julia Kassar, Ali El Khalil and Bassam Koussa follows and the visually spectacular drama ‘A Monster Calls’ from director Juan Antonio Bayona and featuring Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones and Liam Neeson rounds the day off.
Monday 12th will enjoy two screenings beginning with Argentina’s Foreign-Language Oscar entry ‘The Distinguished Citizen‘ directed by Gaston Duprat is up first and Tom Ford’s psychological thriller ‘Nocturnal Animals’ starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal concludes the day.
Philippe Falardeau brings his exceptional biographical sports drama to the Madinat Arena on Tuesday 13th, ‘The Bleeder’ starring Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber and Ron Pearlman. The star-studded ensemble American drama ‘Collateral Beauty’ from David Frankel includes Will Smith, Edward Norton, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Naomie Harris and Keira Knightly closes the curtain on the day’s screenings.
A special presentation ‘Lumière! Inventing Cinema’ will light up the Madinat Souk Theatre screens on Thursday, 8th December at 4pm inviting festival goers to discover a selection of short films from the Lumière brothers, the pioneers of cinema who made some of the world’s first and most famous films using the Cinematograph – an invention that forever changed the way we see the world. This outstanding exhibition, a compilation of 98 conserved and restored films in 4k which Louis Lumière and his brother, Auguste made between 1895 and 1905, will be presented by Thierry Frémaux, the General Director of the Cannes Film Festival and the Institut Lumière in Lyon and one of the international film community’s most distinguished figures.
The Dubai International Film Festival will run from December 7-14, 2016