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10 films you can’t miss this DIFF

The ninth edition of the Dubai International Film Festival (December 9-16) will screen over 160 films from 61 countries, in 43 languages, featuring 52 world premieres, 14 international premieres, 73 Middle East premieres and 17 GCC premieres. In case you’re unsure which movies to go to, here’s an XPRESS guide to 10 must-watch films this DIFF

  • Life of PiImage Credit:
  • HitchcockImage Credit:

Life of Pi

Genre: Adventure/drama
Country: USA

Director: Ang Lee

Cast: Suraj Sharma, Tabu, Adil Hussain, Gérard Depardieu, Irrfan Khan,

Where: Madinat Arena 8pm; Mall of Emirates 12, December 15, 3.45pm

Synopsis: The festival opens with this film. Based on the bestselling book by Yann Martel, Time magazine described the film as the next Avatar in its use of 3D technology and in creating a spectacular world of wonder. It’s the story of a young man’s incredible survival at sea against almost impossible odds, not least of which is sharing the lifeboat with the only other survivor, a ferocious Bengal tiger.



Genre: Biography Country: USA
Director: Sacha Gervasi

Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Jessica Biel, Scarlett Johansson,

Where: Madinat Arena, December 11, 9pm; MoE 12, December 16, 6.30pm

Synopsis: This is a love story about one of the most influential filmmakers of the last century, Alfred Hitchcock and his wife Alma Reville stunningly played by Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren. It describes the making of Hitchcock’s movie Psycho, which forced them to mortgage their house to get it made.


Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away

Genre: Fantasy

Country: USA
Director: Andrew Adamson

Cast: Erica Linz , Igor Zaripov

Where: Madinat Arena, 
December 11, 5pm

Synopsis: For those who have seen Cirque du Soleil live the wonder that their fantastic aerial stories convey will be no surprise. Director Andrew Adamson (Shrek, Narnia) and visionary producer James Cameron take audiences on a new 3D adventure. A young couple cross paths in a circus, are separated and must journey through fantastic, magical and dreamlike worlds to find each other again.



Genre: Drama,

Country: France

Director: Michael Haneke

Cast: Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Louis Trintignant

Where: Madinat Arena, December 14, 8pm; MoE 1, December 16, 3pm

Synopsis: Winner of the Cannes Palme d’Or this year Amour tells the story of octogenarians Georges and Anne, retired classical music teachers, long married and still enjoying each other’s company. One day Anne has a mild stroke and Georges insists on looking after her but when a second one strikes, life as they knew it is over. The performances by two legendary actors leave one deeply moved.



Genre: Drama/war

Country: China

Director: Feng Xiaogang

Cast: Adrien Brody, Alec Su, Chen Daoming, Fan Xu, Hanyu Zhang, Tim Robbins, Zhang Guoli

Where: Madinat Arena, 
December 13, 8pm

Synopsis: In 1942, as China and Japan were at war, Henan province was devastated by one of the worst famines in modern Chinese history. The disaster was exacerbated by locusts, natural disasters, disease and corruption. Feng Xiaogang’s sweeping epic looks at this traumatic period with tales of sadness and great bravery.



Genre: Children’s Film
Country: Norway

Director: Nils Gaup

Cast: Vilde Marie Zeiner, 
Agnes Kittelsen

Where: Madinat Arena, 
December 14, 3pm

Synopsis: A long time ago, the king’s only daughter, Gulltopp, disappeared when she went into the woods to find the Christmas star. The queen died of grief and the king cursed the Christmas star, causing a cold darkness to fall over his kingdom. Legend has it that if the king can make the Christmas star shine again before 10 Christmas Eves have gone by, Gulltopp will return. It has now been nine years and this Christmas is the king’s last hope to find the Christmas star.



Genre: Documentary
Country: USA/Philippines

Director: Ramona S Diaz

Where: MoE 12, December 10, 2.45pm; MoE11 December 12, 6.15pm

Synopsis: The film follows the true rock’n’roll story of Arnel Pineda, a Filipino who was plucked from YouTube to become the highly successful frontman of Journey, a quintessential American band. Having overcome a life full of painful obstacles and now saddled with the immense pressures of leading a world- renowned band and replacing a legendary singer, Arnel’s personal journey as he is catapulted from relative obscurity into the dizzying heights of stardom.


Cloud Atlas

Genre: Drama/science fiction
Country: Germany, USA, Hong Kong, Singapore

Director: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer

Cast: Tom Hanks, Ben Whishaw, Doona Bae, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Susan Sarandon

Synopsis: Based on David Mitchell’s best-selling novel Cloud Atlas, the film spins multiple stories across the world and millennia in a virtuoso display of narrative and spectacle, its theme of human connectedness reinforced by actors in multiple roles. What was thought a novel beyond any possibility of being filmed is now a cinematic kaleidoscope of stories, characters, action, adventure and love woven across time and space in a stunning visual and intricate epic.


Gulabi Gang

Genre: Social/documentary
Country: India

Director: Nishtha Jain

Cast: Hemlata Patel, Sampat Devi Pal, Suman Singh Chuhan, Usha Patel

Where: MoE 6, December 14,6.15pm; MoE11, December 16, 3.15pm

Synopsis: Watching this documentary shot in northern Uttar Pradesh makes one want to redefine the term “heroine” in Indian films. Sampat Pal, founder and leader of Gulabi Gang, leads the pink sari-clad women who travel long distances by cart, tractor, bus and train pursuing justice for women and lower-class people. Undeterred by sneering policemen and condescending bureaucrats, the Gulabi Gang has started a remarkable, impressive crusade for justice.


The Sapphires

Genre: Drama
Country: Australia

Director: Wayne Blair

Cast: Deborah Mailman, Eka Darville, Jessica Mauboy,

Where: Madinat Arena, 
December 15, 8pm

Synopsis: Fact is stranger than fiction they say, and four young Aboriginal women and a down-on-his-luck Irish musician prove them right. They comprise The Sapphires, a fabulous singing quartet – and Australia’s answer to the Supremes – but who no one wants to know until, that is, they run into Dave and end up wowing the troops in Vietnam. The Sapphires is a triumphant celebration of emotion, family, laughter and, above all, music in this glorious true story.


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