The 13th Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF 2016), held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, unveiled its full line-up of 156 films from 55 countries.
DIFF 2016, which runs December 7– 14, spans feature, non-fiction and 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.
With 18 Galas and 16 Special Presentations announced, Q&As and special appearances from a stellar line-up of industry talent and the spotlight firmly on Oscar hopefuls as well as promising Arab talent, the stage is set for another sparkling eight-day celebration of the very best in cinema.
Opening Night Gala: Miss Sloane
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 who is notorious for her unparalleled talent and her desire to win at all costs, even when it puts her own career at risk. Starring Jessica Chastain, 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 Night Gala: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
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.
‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ is directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, with Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker. Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur and Simon Emanuel are producing, with John Knoll and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The story is by John Knoll and Gary Whitta, and the screenplay is by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy. ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ opens in UAE theatres on December 15, 2016.
In Conversation with Samuel Jackson
At its opening ceremony, DIFF will present three prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards, recognising 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 recognised for their work is legendary Rekha, 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 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 Conversation with Jeffrey Wright & Luke Hemsworth
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 theMadinat Souk Theatre..
DIFF 2016: Beach Screenings
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 ofJordan 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 ‘Mail 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 directed by Peter Chelsom and starring Asa Butterfield and Gary Oldman closes DIFF’s Beach Screenings on the 14th.
The Gala Screenings
These 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 the latest work from two-time Oscar winner Ang Lee who brings his extraordinary vision to DIFF in ‘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’sBritish romantic comedy ‘Their Finest’ starring Gemma Arterton, Bill Nighy and Sam Claflin.
The 10th plays host to a further four gala screenings. DIFF’s Saturday morning Madinat 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 Founder’ – 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, 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 American drama ‘Collateral Beauty’ from David Frankel, which stars Will Smith, Edward Norton, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Naomie Harris and Keira Knightly, closes the curtain on the day’s screenings.
On December 12th, Eva Longoria Bastón will return to Dubai with the support of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) and UAE-based global philanthropic organization Dubai Cares to host an exclusive gala dinner and high-end auction featuring one-of-a-kind prizes to raise funds for Dubai Cares and the Global Gift Foundation, the official Charity Gala of the festival. Funds raised during the Gala will go towards supporting programs in four different continents making it a truly global gala in partnership with Dubai Cares, Harmony House (India), the Eva Longoria Foundation (USA & Mexico) and the Global Gift Gala’s Casa Global Gift. A night of film stars and philanthropy is expected at The Four Seasons Resort at Jumeirah Beach. The annual glittering black-tie charity evening, sponsored by the Apparel Group, will host international stars led by Honorary Chair of the Gala Eva Longoria Bastón, Melanie Griffith and Will Poulter.
Virtual Reality (VR) takes centre 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 programme 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 line-up 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 Dubai Film Market
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.
The 13th edition also sees Screen International’s acclaimed talent-spotting initiative come to DIFF with the launch of ‘Arab Stars of Tomorrow’. Promising acting and directing talent making waves on the festival circuit and international stage will be announced during the Festival.
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.
DIFF audiences are invited to attend the ‘Great Adaptations: From Novel to Screen’ event in partnership with Emirates Airline Festival of Literature when Andrea Gibb, who wrote the ‘Swallows and Amazons’ screenplay and the film’s producer Nick Barton will delve into the creative process of adapting a novel to the screen. The event will run following the second screening on Saturday, December 10 and is scheduled to commence at 6pm at VOX, Mall of the Emirates.
The 13th edition of DIFF will see films screened over eight days at the Madinat Jumeirah Arena, Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah and VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates and THE BEACH – opposite JBR. Cinemagoers will be able to buy tickets from the DIFF box office, which will open online on Friday, November 25th www.dubaifilmfest.com and at the box office at VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates. Tickets will also be available from the Madinat Arena, Madinat Jumeirah from Tuesday, December 6thand from the Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah on Wednesday, 7th December.
International talent flying into Dubai this December includes: Samuel L. Jackson, Rekha, Bill Nighy, Luke Hemsworth, Jeffrey Wright, Andie MacDowell, Ranveer Singh, Vaani Kapoor, Melanie Griffith, Tuba Büyüküstün, Sharlto Copley, Michael Smiley, Enzo Cilento, Eva Longoria Bastón, Dave Johns, Lenny Abrahamson and Asif Kapadia.
Arab celebrities set to grace the red-carpet include: Gabriel Yared, Hend Sabri, Nelly Karim, Sabrine, Leila Eloui, Dareen Hamze, Julia Kassar, Elham Shahine, Bassem Samra, Ali Suliman, Anoushka, Dorra Zarrouk, Donya Al Shirbini, Qusai Khawli, Amal Boushocha, Suzanne Najm El Din, Samer Al Masri, Abed Fahed, Bassem Yakhour, Bassel Khayat, Ali Suliman, Elham Fadala, Amro Saad, Riham Haggag, and Rodrigue Suleiman, Ahmed Magdi and Ali Khalil.
Talent from across the GCC and UAE set to attend includes: Huda Hussain, Khaled Ameen, Latifa Al Mujrin, Bassem Abdul Ameer, Hamad Al Omani, Ebrahim Al Harbi, Ahmed Al Ansari, Ahmad Al Jasmi, Jaber Naghmoush, Habib Ghuloom, Hassan Ragab, Hamid Sumbaikh, Razika Al Taresh, Mariam Sultan, Huda Al Khatib, Marwan Abdullah Saleh, Sultan Al Neyadi, Samira Ahmad, Abdullah Abo Abed, Mansour Al Feeli, Haifaa Hussain, Mahmoud boushehri, Abeer Ahmad, Heba Al Durri.
The Dubai International Film Festival will run from December 7-14, 2016 and ticket packages are on sale now, for more information visit diff.ae. Additional information is also available through the Festival’s dedicated customer care number, 363 FILM (3456).