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The 13th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) will take audiences on an immersive and boundary-pushing journey of storytelling with an all-new Virtual Reality (VR) lineup titled DIFFerent REALITY added to the Festival program for the first time. Ten of the world’s most advanced VR films, including five world premieres, will provide an unmatched cinematic viewing experience hosted within the Festival Headquarter at the Madinat Jumeriah, the home of DIFF for cinephiles and industry professionals alike at the Festival, which runs from 7-14 December, 2016.

DIFF’s Artistic Director, Masoud Amralla Al Ali commented on the new segment: “As the region’s leading film festival, we have always been committed to bringing the latest and greatest to DIFF, whether that be the world’s most anticipated new releases or its most advanced film-making techniques. VR marks an important step for the industry as it offers audiences a unique experience that for the most part, they can only get by stepping inside a movie theatre. The world’s leading filmmakers are racing to produce their films with this technology, evidently proving the importance of opening up new horizons for storytelling and visual narrative. Here at DIFF we are looking forward to providing this experience to festival goers for the first time ever, as they witness storytelling in a whole new way.”

Known for his ground-breaking VR work, Indian director Faiza Ahmad Khan opens up the new program segment with the world premiere of non-fiction film ‘WHEN ALL LAND IS LOST, WILL WE EAT COAL?’. The audience is transported to the dilapidated land of Korba, India’s coalmining district, where years of mining has polluted the habitat and unsettled its people’s lives. Told through the story of a tribal woman, the film reflects on today’s unfair developments, where those who pay the highest price often rarely benefit.

Russian director Georgy Molodtsov and American director Michael Owen team up for the creation of ‘Lake Baikal: The Science and Spirituality of Extreme Water’, which will have its world premiere at DIFF’s 13th edition. Made up of five immersive virtual reality scenes, audiences will shiver with cold as the film explores the unique ecosystem, icy winter landscape and strong spiritual traditions that surround the earth’s most ancient and deepest lake, Lake Baikal in Siberia.

Filmgoers will find themselves at the centre of Italy’s migrant crisis with the non-fiction ‘No Borders’, from renowned Italian director Haider Rashid. Rashid returns to the Festival after previously screening his film ‘Silence: All Roads Lead to Music’ at DIFF 2011 and winning the Special Jury Prize in the Muhr Arab Short segment at DIFF 2013 for ‘The Deep’. ‘No Borders’ emotively documents the experiences of volunteers, who give their time to manage independent centers to support migrants, in contrast with how the larger institutions are handling the crisis.

Surreal drama ‘Knives’ from award winning Canadian director Adam Cosco is centered around Kelsey, a housewife who is on the edge of a nervous breakdown. After encountering a door-to-door knife salesman, Kelsey is offered a way out of her current situation; however it may mean she must kill off aspects of herself in order to spark change and move forward.

Award winning French filmmaker Pierre Zandrowicz brings DIFF his latest fiction film ‘I, Philip’, featuring Dounia Sichov, Nathan Rippy, Doug Rand, Helene Kuhn and David Gasman. Audiences will find themselves totally absorbed inside the mind of Phil, the first android human. After the unfortunate disappearance of the robot’s head, viewers will experience an interpretation of Phil’s life through the avatar’s intimate memories.

Renowned British director Darren Emerson leads audiences through the tough world of detention in the UK’s immigration system with his latest film ‘Invisible’. Featuring Gary Hawker, Bradley Anthony, Joel Dowuona and Darren Thomas, the film explores the psychological pressures of being vulnerably concealed behind intimidating prison walls. Projecting the voices of those with first-hand experience of desperately attempting to prove their worth creates a deeply emotive film.

The Virtual Reality program will also welcome talented French director Romain Levices with his world premiere ‘Oblivius’ starring Kevin Polak and Xi Ning. The engrossing story follows two souls that meet in the underworld where time is but a memory. They dance a tale of love and death but it is the power of love which will lead them to reunite once again.

DIFF’s audiences will experience cinema unlike anything before as internationally acclaimed American director Randal Kleiser provides a completely immersive and intimate experience with his futuristic 360°shot VR film ‘Defrost’. Told directly from Joan’s perspective, the story follows her bittersweet experience of reuniting with family after being frozen for 30 long years.

American director Sarah Hill’s world premiere ‘Are You Listening?: Amazon & Congo’ plants its audience in the depths of the Amazon rainforest with the Munduruku Tribe, and the biodiverse eastern Congo with the Virunga Park Rangers, to passionately explore their confronting stories of a struggling life without electricity.

Emirati director Hassan Kiyany rounds off the impressive slate of virtual reality films with the world premiere of ‘Flash’. Supported by Injaaz and starring Yaser Alneyadi, Ustadi, Khalid Alnaimi, Ksenia Giorno and Saeed Rashed, ‘Flash’ is the first Emirati short film to be produced with VR technology. Masoud is back to home from studying abroad with his girlfriend Jessie introducing her to friends and family. On a road trip with old friends, they experience unwanted attention from people on the journey leading them to series of mysterious events.

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