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Your Guide to the Dubai International Film Festival


We bring you all the highlights ahead of the 11th Dubai International Film Festival, to be held from December 10th to 17th.


This year, DIFF will open with Stephen Hawking’s biopic, The Theory of Everything, directed by James Marsh and starring actors Eddie Redmayne and Jane Wilde. At the opening ceremonies, DIFF will present the Lifetime Achievement Award to the Egyptian actor, Nour El-Sherif.

The festival will close with the international premiere of the musical comedy Into the Woods, starring Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick, and Chris Pine, and directed by Rob Marshall.


While it’s doubtful that you’ll be able to catch all of the films (55 world premieres alone from 48 countries in 34 languages) during the eight-day festival, we do advise that you take in the following:

The Water Diviner

Russell Crowe’s directorial debut features an Australian farmer who travels to Turkey following the Battle of Gallipoli in search for his three missing sons.

Thursday, December 11th


Dustin Hoffman plays a demanding choir master who motivates a gifted and troubled orphan at an elite boarding school in this heartwarming musical.

Friday, December 12th


From Emirati director Waleed Al Shehhi, this film tells the tale of a divorced ambulance driver who lives with his mother and has an only son. The boy dreams of one day seeing dolphins. Winner of the IWC Filmmaker Award (2013).

Friday, December 12th

The Sleeping Tree

By Bahraini filmmaker Mohammed Rashed Buali, this film tells the story of a girl’s relationship with Mother Nature.

Saturday, December 13th

Out of the Ordinary

From Egyptian director Daoud Abdel Sayed, this story follows a man’s investigation of the paranormal.

Sunday, December 14th

Wild Tales

From director Damián Szifrón, this film has been selected as the Argentine entry for the Best Foreign Language Film and follows a waitress who adds a special ingredient to an arrogant loan shark’s meal.

Monday, December 15th

Cairo Time

From Amir Ramses and featuring Nour El-Sherif who will be honored with the DIFF Lifetime Achievement Award. A romantic comedy and drama, the film showcases three stories which take place during the course of one day in Cairo.

Monday, December 15th



The Imitation Game

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, the film follows a genius logician and cryptologist as he helps to crack Germany’s Enigma Code during World War II.

Tuesday, December 16th


As expected, a strong lineup of international and regional celebrities will descend on Dubai throughout the festival. Notably, Emily Blunt, Kelsey Grammer, Eva Longoria, Paul Bettany, Anil Kapoor, Nour El-Sherif, Nadine Labaki, LailaTaher, Mohamed Sobhi, Jamal Suliman, Ali F. Mostafa, Layla Abdullah, and HaifaaHussain.


Golden Globe winner Emily Blunt will join the jury for the IWC Filmmaker Award which offers US $100,000 in cash to one filmmaker, to be presented on Thursday, December 11th. The three films in line for the prize are: Saeed Salmeen Al-Murry’s Going to Heaven, Ahd Kamel’s Sandfish, and Abdullah Boushahri’s The Water.

Meanwhile the Muhr Awards jury for the feature competition, which awards talent from the UAE and the Arab world, will be lead by Lee Daniels, the producer and director of the Oscar-winning Precious and The Butler. Joining him will be Dutch film director Leonard Retel Helmrich, Algerian director Malik Bensmail, Oscar-nominated actress Virginia Madsen, and Lebanese director and actress Nadine Labaki. The Muhr Shorts and Emirati competition will be led by the legendary Egyptian filmmaker, Mohamed Khan.


On December 14th, honorary chair Eva Longoria will host the gala event where DIFF will partner with Dubai Cares in support of the Eva Longoria Foundation (education and entrepreneurship opportunities to women), Sunrise K’ Foundation (raising awareness for children with glaucoma), and the Global Gift Foundation (against child hunger).


Screenings will occur at the Madinat Jumeirah Arena, Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, and VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates. Free screenings will be held at The Beach, JBR.


Purchase tickets from the DIFF box office, open online at Tickets are also available from the VOX Cinemas Mall of the Emirates box office and can also be bought from the Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, and Madinat Arena, Madinat Jumeirah from December 10th.

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