A total of 16 major films are set to make their gala debuts at Madinat Jumeirah during the upcoming Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF). The 13th edition of the silver screen extravaganza will see the purpose-built Madinat Arena showcase a wide gamut of movie genres from animation and foreign language to comedies and musicals.

"DIFF's special gala screenings are the crowning glory of the Festival and something we really look forward to each year," said Masoud Amralla Al Ali, DIFF's Artistic Director. "The setting at the Madinat Arena adds even more magic to the wonder of cinema and provides a truly memorable film experience for all of our guests as they have the chance to view some of the latest and greatest films from around the globe in a bespoke venue created just for the Festival."

The gala screening begins on December 8 with the Hindi film Befikre as well as Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Oscar-winning director Ang Lee. The following day will see the openings of children's adventure film Swallows and Amazons, Emirati film The Worthy and the Gemma Arterton-starred British comedy Their Finest.

DIFF 2016 gala screenings

Continuing the gala screening on December 10 is the animation Rock Dog, before the highly acclaimed musical La La Land, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, takes centrestage. Rounding off the day's cinema offerings are the biopic The Founder and Egyptian film The Preacher. December 11 then shines the spotlight on Lebanese comedy Solitaire and A Monster Calls, which stars Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones and Liam Neeson.

December 12 will see screenings for The Distinguished Citizen, Argentina's Oscar entry as well as Manchester By the Sea, starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams. The Hollywood showcase resumes the next day with the Naomi Watts-starred The Bleeder before the celebrity-filled Collateral Beauty – Will Smith, Edward Norton, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Naomie Harris and Keira Knightley – ends the day. Bringing the curtain down on the exclusive DIFF gala screenings will be the regional premiere for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The 2017 DIFF  will run from December 7-14. Also, don't miss the highlights of the 'Cinema of the World' programme this year.