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Diff 2016 goes big on Virtual Reality films

Brand new VR segment to bring 10 films, including five world premieres, to the film festival

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Virtual Reality is going to be a major part of the Dubai International Film Festival’s (Diff) offering this year with a new segment called ‘DIFFerent Reality. Ten VR films, including five world premieres, will be screened at the eight-day festival.

Indian director Faiza Ahmad Khan opens the line-up with the world premiere of non-fiction film When All Land Is Lost?, set in the dilapidated land of Korba, India’s coal mining 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 Lake Baikal: The Science and Spirituality of Extreme Water, which will have its world premiere at Diff. Made up of five immersive virtual reality scenes, 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.

No Borders, from renowned Italian director Haider Rashid, documents the experiences of volunteers, who give their time to manage independent centres to support migrants, in contrast with how the larger institutions are handling the crisis.

Drama Knives from award winning Canadian director Adam Cosco is centred 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 his latest fiction film I, Philip, featuring Dounia Sichov, Nathan Rippy, Doug Rand, Helene Kuhn and David Gasman. After the disappearance of Phil’s head — he’s an android — viewers will experience an interpretation of his 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.

French director Romain Levices brings Oblivius starring Kevin Polak and Xi Ning. The story follows two souls that meet in the underworld where time is but a memory. American director Randal Kleiser introduces his futuristic 360-degree 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.

Diff runs from December 7 to 14. Tickets are on sale now on diff.ae.

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