Dubai: XPRESS has curated a list of must-watch movies, some of which were banned in their respective countries, and DIFF is probably the only place you may get to watch them:
1. A Man of Integrity - Iran
Directed by Mohammad Rasoulof, one of Iran’s highly regarded directors, the film deals with corruption in Iran and won the ‘Un Certain Regard’ competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Reza (Reza Akhlaghirad) plays an honest man on a downward spiral born of untenable moral choices when he refuses to sell his land to a large corporation. Like Rasoulof’s previous five movies, this one is banned in Iran and absolutely worth a watch.
Where to watch: VOX Cinemas Mall of the Emirates, December 8, 6.45pm; December 13, 5.15pm
2. My Generation - UK
My Genration played extremely well at the London Film Festival, before getting an eight-minute standing ovation at Venice. Now hitting DIFF, the film is a groovy glide through the British ’60s. With raw footage of everyone from Paul McCartney to David Bailey, Twiggy, Marianne Faithfull and Keith Richards, David Batty’s cool-as-they-come doc celebrates the rock ’n’ roll anti-establishment rebellion that gripped the UK and US, and is a lovely look back at what remains the ‘hippest’ generation.
Where to watch: Souk Madinat Theatre, December 7, 10pm
Ticket Price: Dh35
3. Last men in Aleppo - Syria
After five years of war, the remaining citizens of Aleppo are still under siege. Help comes from the White Helmets, the civilian corps who act as emergency services to people caught up in bombing and attacks. The film explores the daily lives of these brave souls, surrounded by death and destruction and their struggle to keep the streets safe. This heart-rending, uplifting document of human spirit, resilience and courage won the Grand Jury Prize (World Cinema – Documentary) at Sundance earlier this year.
Where to watch: VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates, December 8, 9.30pm; December 10, 9.30pm and 3.15pm
4. 5 Rupees - India
Ameena is a poor old lady who lives in a tiny village in the foothills of the Himalayas with her seven-year-old grandson Hamid. It’s the last day of Ramadan and Hamid is excited by the prospect of ending his final fast and celebrating Eid. But when the five-rupee coin his grandmother has been saving for his Eid gift goes missing, a chain of events starts that ends up with grandmother and grandson discovering hidden sides to each other.
Where to watch: VOX Cinemas, Mall of the emirates, December 9, 3.30pm; December 11, 6pm
5. A Time to Pray - UAE/Kuwait
This movie might only be 11 minutes long, but the message is deep. An Emirati girl and her pregnant friend go on a long trip, but have a car accident in the heart of nowhere. In desperation they visit a local mosque, the only one in the area for help. The movie can be watched along with three other short films – Lost Piece, Scape Goat and Our neighbour Bu Hamad.
Where to watch: VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates, December 10 & 12, 6.30pm
6. I am not a Witch - Zambia
This debut feature from Zambian director Rungano Nyoni artfully satirises her homeland’s more esoteric traditions and beliefs. The film is a comic account of a young girl, Shula, who is declared a witch by her neighbours in a rural Zambian village. She’s sent to a bizarre ‘witch camp’ under the care of an official Mr Banda who gets busy exploiting the child’s supposed talents in ever-more bizarre situations. There’s more than a whiff of black comedy here.
Where to watch: VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates, December 11, 9.45pm; December 13, 5.30pm
7. The Prince of Nothingwood - Afghanistan
French radio journalist Sonia Kronlund chronicles the life and work of the Afghan self-made filmmaker and star Salim Shaheen. “Film is a battleground,” director Sam Fuller famously said. But what happens when you’re literally trying to make films in the middle of a war zone? In Sonia Kronlund’s fascinating behind-the-scenes documentary Nothingwood, we are introduced to the life and work of Shaheen, an actor/director/jack-of-all-trades who may be the most prolific filmmaker in Afghanistan, if not the entire world.
Where to watch: VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates, December 12, 6pm; December 13, 2.15pm
8. What will people say? - Norway/Pakistan
Growing up in Norway, 16-year-old Pakistani girl Nisha (Maria Mozhdah) lives a double life – a dutiful daughter and a typical Norwegian teenager. Following heated argument with her parents, Nisha is kidnapped and sent to Pakistan. Coming of age stories are nothing new, neither are culture-clash parables, yet What Will People Say evades the usual parade of clichés to acquit itself extraordinarily well, with the cast turning in a timely and thought-provoking take on the usual set-up of rebellious teen and intransigent parents.
Where to watch: December 11, 9.15pm; December 13, 2pm on Wednesday, at VOX Cinemas Mall of the Emirates
Ticket Price: Dh35
9. Super-Size Me 2: Holy Chicken - USA
Muckraking filmmaker Morgan Spurlock reignites his battle with the food industry — this time from behind the register — as he opens his own fast food restaurant. In the 13 years since Super Size Me, the fast-food industry has undergone a makeover. Today, chain restaurants tout food that’s “healthy,” “organic,” and “natural.” Spurlock explores this new reality with an approach even more immersive and subversive than that used for his first film: he sets out to open his own chicken franchise. The film follows him every step of the way, from raising poultry and conjuring recipes to designing the brand and scouting a location. Spurlock brings his disarming humour to uncover the truths and lies behind this multibillion-dollar industry.
Where to watch: Souk Madinat Theatre, December 9, 6.45pm; VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates December 11, 6.15pm
10. The Death of Stalin - Russia
Armando Iannucci, the genius political satirist behind Veep and The Thick of It, heads to Russia in 1953, for this biting comedy on the days that followed the death of Stalin. Somehow managing to be hilarious about one of the darkest chapters in history, an all-star cast play out the panicked power struggle that followed the dictator’s departure. While the likes of Jason Isaacs (as barking general Georgy Zhukov) and Olga Kurylenko, Stalin’s favourite pianist, round out a game ensemble with deliberately random accents, to portray a truly deadly farce.
Where to watch: Madinat Arena, December 8, 6pm
1. Patrick Stewart: The Star Trek sensation, and much talked about for his recent performance in Logan, Patrick Stewart will be honoured for his lifetime contribution to the industry at DIFF.
2. Cate Blanchett: Hela from Thor: Ragnarok, will make her appearance at DIFF for the third time this year as the head of IWC Filmmakers Jury for the sixth IWC Filmmaker Award.
3. David Harbour: Best known for his role as gruff and tortured Police Chief Jim Hopper in Netflix hit show, Stranger Things, David Harbour is coming along as a guest to the festival.
4. Sarah Jessica Parker: Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the city will make an appearance for the Global Gift gala on December 8 along with Vanessa Williams.
5. Luis Fonsi: Hear him sing the most viewed song on YouTube, Despacito on December 8 during the Global Gift Gala.
6. Irrfan Khan: Khan, who played a cameo in Spiderman will be honoured for his contribution with the DIFF Honorary Award 2017 on December 13.
What: DIFF 2017
When: December 6–13
Where: Madinat Jumeirah Arena, Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, VOX Cinemas Mall of the Emirates and The Beach opposite JBR
Tickets: From Dh35 onwards.
For more information: https://dubaifilmfest.com/en/7656/dates.html