Faisal Hashmi, UAE-based independent Pakistani filmmaker:
Birdman: “Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s latest masterpiece is both technically awe-inspiring [with its long tracking shots] as well a scathing commentary on Hollywood itself following an ageing actor who once played a superhero. Plus, with a cast including Michael Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone, there’s no way a film buff can afford to miss this.” (Sunday, December 14, 10pm, Madinat and Tuesday, December 16: 6pm, Vox.)
Mommy: “As a huge fan of We Need To Talk About Kevin, I’m very excited for Xavier Dolan’s acclaimed drama, which also deals with a mother and her violent son. It looks thought-provoking, edgy, and comes with the coveted Jury Award from Cannes Film Festival. It would be a mistake to be missing it.” (Monday, December 15, 9pm, Madinat; Wednesday, December 17, 2.45pm at Vox.)
Wild Tales: “Being a huge fan of anthology films, this buzzed-about Argentinian dark comedy contains six standalone short films that deal with love, deception and violence in unpredictable ways. With heavyweight director Pedro Almodovar producing it, this could be the Best Foreign Film Oscar winner next year.” (Monday, December 15, at 6pm at Madinat; Wednesday, December 17, at 6.30pm at Vox.)
Dukhtar: “As a Pakistani myself, it’s great to see the resurgence in independent cinema in the country and Dukhtar is proof of that. Following the story of a mother’s escape with her 10-year-old daughter before she’s sold off to settle a feud, Pakistan’s official submission to the Oscars looks like a must-see.” (Thursday, December 11, 9.30pm and Friday, December 12, 5.45pm, both Vox.)
Dolphins: “As a UAE-based independent filmmaker myself, nothing excites me more than great local cinema. Dolphins looks to be the City of Life this year, as it’s another ensemble drama following three stories over a period of 24 hours that interweave. It looks promising and exciting.” (Friday, December 12, 9pm, Madinat; Sunday, December 14, 6.15pm, Vox.)
Diff runs until December 17. All films are screened at Vox Cinemas in Mall of the Emirates and at the Madinat Theatre at the Madinat Jumeirah. For tickets and schedule, go to dubaifilmfest.com.