The 12th Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has unveiled its line-up of 134 films from 60 countries alongside a bustling industry portfolio at the Dubai Film Market, a robust competition and numerous special events.
The Festival, which runs December 9 to 16, spans feature, documentary and short films, including 55 world premieres and international premieres, 46 MENA premieres, 11 Middle East premieres and 17 GCC premieres. The films, made in more than 40 languages, populate DIFF’s Arab and Emirati competitions, and its out-of-competition segments dedicated to children, the Arab world and cinema from around the globe.
The DIFF 2015 selection also showcases an impressive slate of contemporary Arab cinema, with more than 70 biopics, comedies, dramas and love stories from the Arabian Peninsula, Levant and North Africa. More than half of these – 40 – are making their global debuts in Dubai; an additional nine are international premieres.
This year, DIFF will open on 9th December with Lenny Abrahamson’s suspenseful and heartrending drama ‘Room’ based on Emma Donoghue’s 2010 best-selling novel of the same name.
‘Room’ recently won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. ‘Room’ is a story of survival recounting the tale of a mother, played by Brie Larson, and her young son Jack, played by Jacob Temblay.
Internationally renowned screenwriter, director, comedian and actor Adam McKay’s star-studded financial-crisis comedy-drama ‘The Big Short’, based on Michael Lewis’ best-selling account of the financial crisis, will close the curtain on the 12th edition.
Featuring a stellar cast that includes Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell, the four play outsiders in the world of high-finance who predicted the spectacular collapse of the credit and housing markets in the mid-2000’s, and who decide to take on the big banks for their lack of foresight and greed.
Abdulhamid Juma, Chairman of DIFF, said: “Every year the Dubai International Film Festival continues to prove itself as one of the world's leading Film Festivals for both film fans and the wider film industry. For eight days in December the UAE, the region and the world will come together in Dubai to celebrate the magic of cinema.
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Works from some of the world's most talented directors and acclaimed actors will be screened across the city; new connections will be forged at the Dubai Film Market; and all eyes will be on Arab cinema as DIFF once again provides a platform to support cinema from around the region. With such an impressive showcase of films, acclaimed talent, industry programmes and special events at this year's DIFF, I am prouder than ever to see an incredible line-up of quality contemporary Arab cinema that continues to challenge perspectives and stand tall alongside international counterparts."
At the opening ceremony, DIFF will present four prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards, recognising these individuals’ incredible contributions to cinema. The first of which will be presented to legendary Egyptian actor Ezzat Al Alayli whose impressive career spans over five decades. The second award goes to internationally acclaimed French-Tunisian actor Sami Bouajila and the third Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to prolific Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah, whose incredible career has seen him appear in over 200 films across 40 years. The fourth award will be presented to the one of the of the world's most distinguished actresses Catherine Deneuve who has appeared in more than 120 films.
A panel of renowned professionals from the film industry will comprise the prestigious Muhr Awards jury. The awards aim to recognise talent from the UAE and wider Arab world and have highlighted more than 280 cinematic works to date.
DIFF’s Muhr Feature competition jury will be headed up by the Oscar nominated screenwriter, director and producer, Deepa Mehta.
Joining Deepa Mehta on the jury will be: award-winning Australian independent documentary filmmaker, Tom Zubrycki; Egyptian Actor Khaled El Nawabi; acclaimed Emirati filmmaker Nujoom Al-Ghanem; and Iraqi filmmaker Maysoon Pachachi.
The Muhr Short and Gulf Short competition will be headed up by Oscar nominated Icelandic director Fridrik Thor Fridriksson. He will be joined by Tunisian director Hinde Boujemaa and Emirati director and producer Ali F. Mostafa.
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The Muhr Emirati competition will be led by double Oscar-winning Danish producer Kim Magnusson. He will be joined by renowned Kuwaiti journalist Abdul Sattar Naji and Dr. Hessa Abdullah Lootah, the first Emirati female television director who was recently honoured by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai at the UAE Pioneers Award 2015, for her contributions to the UAE’s success.
Masoud Amralla Al Ali, DIFF Artistic Director, said: “The exceptional talent on show in this year’s Muhr competition is proof of the increasing number of talented filmmakers in the Arab world. Since its inception the Muhr Competition has cemented its reputation as a crucial springboard for filmmakers here in the region to showcase their work to global audiences and win acclaim. The 60 films in competition this year will capture our hearts, minds and the world’s attention as we showcase work from established filmmakers in tandem with the latest up-and-comers which makes for a diverse and rich selection for our audiences.”
Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee Hany Abu-Assad will take the role as Head of the Jury for the fourth IWC Filmmaker Award. He will be joined by: acclaimed Tunisian actress Hend Sabry; Georges Kern, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen; Abdulhamid Juma, Chairman of DIFF; and Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Artistic Director of DIFF. The award offers a US$ 100,000 cash prize to one winning filmmaker which will be presented at an event hosted by ‘Supported By’ Sponsor and ‘Festival-Time’ Partner IWC Schaffhausen on Thursday, December 10th. Last year, Abdullah Boushahri received the IWC Filmmaker Award from IWC Schaffhausen brand ambassador Emily Blunt for his project Water, which is currently in production.