Buro 24/7 Guide: The 11th Dubai International Film Festival 2014
The definitive guide of what to see and do at Dubai's upcoming film festival...
It's the time of year that all film lovers relish, when the great and the good of the international film community descend upon Dubai for the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Joining the ranks of Cannes, Venice and Sundance, Condé Nast has declared DIFF one of the top ten film festivals in the world, and it's right on our doorstep...
This year with 118 films from 39 different countries screening across four superb venues in 23 different languages, there is more on offer than ever before. Here Buro 24/7 lays out an essential guide to help you navigate the festivals extensive offerings and make sure you enjoy a front row seat to all the best features, short films and documentaries...
"this year we are bringing audiences a unique selection of films from both young filmmakers and legendary acclaimed masters..." – asoud amralla al ali, diff's artistic director
The Theory of Everything
The honour of opening the festivalfalls to the highly anticipated Stephen Hawking biopic and Oscar contender The Theory of Everything, from Academy Award-winning director James Marsh. Starring Eddie Redmayne in majestic form as the pre-eminent astro physicist and the delightful Felicity Jones as his wife. The film examines Hawking's fight to pursue his vital and brilliant research despite his crippling battle with motor-neurone disease.
The Water Diviner
The 'Cinema of the World' section is bursting with must see titles from far and wide, some highlights include: Birdman, described as a thrilling leap forward for Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu who challenged his ensemble cast of stars (Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton and Zach Galifanakis) with specialised continuous takes in the making of this technical powerhouse.
Russell Crowe will grace screens in The Water Diviner, a tale of the love and hope of a determined father who seeks his three lost sons, set against the backdrop of the Battle of Gallipoli in Turkey. Jessica Chastain dons an eighties inspired Armani wardrobe in crime thriller A Most Violent Year, so named because the action takes place in 1981, statistically the most violent year in the history of New York City.
Looking beyond the big ticket entries lay some of the smaller gems such as Court, the debut feature from Indian writer/ director Chaitanya Tamhaneand. This humble entry has garnered high praise for its understated examination of the Indian judicial system, achieving near perfect naturalism through performance and a well measured script.
Inspired by true events These Are The Rules is a compelling story about a tragedy that consumes a whole family. Heart wrenching performances by Emir Hadzihafizbegovic and Jasna Zalica, plus sobering camera work and music, make this small Croatian film extremely powerful. For something lighter there is What We Do In The Shadows written and directed by New Zealand comedy dream team Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. Unanimously hailed as ‘hilarious’ by critics this movie 'mockumentary' follows the lives of three flatmates who are just trying to get by and overcome life's obstacles, like, being immortal vampires – a hot contender for comedy of the year.
A Most Violent Year
What We Do In The Shadows
Bookending the festival and closing the proceedings is the star studded Into The Woods brought to us by director Rob Marshall featuring a Hollywood A–Z including Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine and Emily Blunt (who is set to attend the festival). This magical reimagining of some of the best known children's fairytales blends our best-loved stories and characters like never before, set to the backdrop of a sensational origional musical soundtrack.
- Wednesday 10 December The Theory of Everything screening at the Madinat Arena at 8pm
- Wednesday 10 December St. Vincent screening at The Beach, JBR at 8pm
- Thursday 11 December The Water Diviner screening at the Madinat Area at 6.30pm
- Thursday 11 December Dukhar screening at the Mall of Emirates at 9.30pm
- Friday 12 December Shelter screening at the Madinat Theatre at 8.15pm
- Friday 12 December Black Souls screening at the Mall of Emirates at 5.15pm
- Saturday 13 December Paradise Lost screening at the Madinat Arena at 6pm
- Saturday 13 December Fox Catcher screening at the Mall of Emirates at 7pm
- Sunday 14 December Birdman screening at the Madinat Arena at 10pm
- Monday 15 December Wild Tales screening at the Madinat Arena at 6pm
- Monday 15 December Trip Along Exodus screening at the Mall of Emirates at 9.30pm
- Tuesday 16 December The Imitation Game screening at the Madinat Arena at 6pm
- Tuesday 16 December X+Y screening at The Beach, JBR at 7.30pm
- Wednesday 17 December The Valley screening at the Mall of Emirates at 6pm
- Wednesday 17 December Into The Woods screening at the Madinat Arena at 8pm
Narrow Frame of Midnight
The Arabic Films
Arabic cinema has benefitted greatly from the funding scheme the festival provides and there is a great focus on home-grown talent this year with almost half of the festival’s entries being of arabic influence. The prestigious Muhr competition is heavily contested and has emerged as a definitive platform for Arab film, nurturing and rewarding filmmaking excellence in the Arab world.
The competition has helped raise the profiles of award recipients on the international stage and draws attention to cinema from the region. To date it has distributed 255 Muhr Awards. Some of this year's Muhr contesters include UAE-made The Narrow Frame of Midnight penned and directed by Tala Hadid, the tale of a colourless life The Sea Is Behind Us from award-winning Moroccan director Hicham Lasri. As well as Abood Kandaishan the comedy offering from Abu Dhabi-born director Fadel Almheiri and Sara the saddening tale of a Palestinian honour killing.
The UAEis being represented by a total of 27 submissions this year which include 'Digital Studio Young Filmmaker of the Year' 2010 award-winner and first Emirati to direct a feature, Ali Mustafa. The City of life director's 2014 offering titled From A to B will form part of the festival programming following its release earlier in October of this year. Mustafa has also co-produced Bokra the film, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the charity single Bokra. Joining her fellow countryman is Nujoom Al Ghanem with Nearby Sky the feature documentary about the unlikely empowerment of a woman who wishes to enter her Camel into auction in Abu Dhabi.
- Thursday 11 December Abood Kandaishan screening at Mall of the Emirates at 6.30pm
- Thursday 11 December From A to B screening at Mall of the Emirates at 10pm
- Friday 12 December Nearby Sky creening at Mall of the Emirates at 5.30pm
- Saturday 13 December The Narrow Frame of Midnight screening at Madinat Theatre at 5.30pm
- Saturday 13 December From A to B screening at Mall of the Emirates at 6.30pm
- Saturday 13 December Abood Kandaishan screening at The Beach, JBR at 7.30pm
- Sunday 14 December The Sea Is Behind Us screening at the Madinat Theatre at 9.30pm
- Monday 15 December Nearby Sky screening at the Mall of Emirates at 5.30pm
- Monday 15 December The Narrow Frame of Midnight screening at Mall of the Emirates at 6.15pm
- Monday 15 December The Sea Is Behind Us screening at Mall of the Emirates at 6.30pm
- Wednesday 17 December Bokra The Film screening at the Madinat Theatre at 8.45pm
Meet the Patels
Often overlooked by film goers throughout the year in favour of their more attractive counterparts – feature films – documentaries enjoy the opportunity to flex their creative and informative muscle on the festival circuit for 2014. This year, DIFF has an expansive range of real-life offerings from around the world such as The Council from former Muhr Arab competition winner Yahya Alabdallah. Oscar-nominated and Emmy award-winning filmmakers headed by director Gabe Polsky bring us the thrilling and inspiring documentary about the Soviet Union: Red Army and the witty and brutally honest Meet The Patels, which follows the plight of Ravi Patel who enlists the help of his parents to end his struggle to find a Patel just like him in his current home – America.
- Friday 12 December Red Army screening at the Mall of the Emirates at 5.45pm
- Friday 12 December The Council screening at the Mall of the Emirates at 6pm
- Friday 12 December Meet The Patels screening at The Beach, JBR at 7.30pm
- Sunday 14 December The Council screening at the Mall of Emirates at 9.45pm
- Monday 15 December Red Army screening at The Beach, JBR at 7.30pm
- Tuesday 16 December Meet The Patels screening at the Mall of Emirates at 2.45pm
"it's a great honour for me to be a part of the IWC Filmmaker Award jury and support a valuable initiative that promotes the art of film in the Gulf...[with films that] undoubtedly touch the hearts and minds of audiences in the region and internationally." – Emily Blunt
The Who's Who
Every year, the Dubai International Film Festival draws actors, directors, celebrities and producers from all over the world as well as international media. For 2014, a handful of prestigious film insiders will visit Dubai to open films, give inspiring talks and attend the slightly overwhelming series of events on this year's schedule. Take a look at some of the most prestigious attendees for DIFF 2014...
Nour El-Sherif is a prominent Egyptian actor and this year's recipient of the prestigious 'DIFF Lifetime Achievement Award' for his work on more than 100 notable films.
Mohamed Khan, the president of the Muhr awards jury, founded in 2006, which exclusively honours and nutures arabic film talent.
Lee Daniels, the renowned American director and producer who will be heading up the jury for the main feature competition at this year's DIFF.
Emily Blunt, the Into the Woods star who will also lead the jury for the 'IWC Filmmaker Award' and attend the IWC gala, which will feature a performance by Aloe Blacc.
GCC directors shortlisted for the prestigious 'IWC Filmmaker Award' include Saeed Salmeen Al Murry (pictured above), Ahd Kamel and Abdullah Boushahri.
Other guests confirmed to attend this year's DIFF include Kelsey Grammer, Paul Bettany, Olga Kurylenko, Bollywood stars Anil Kapoor and John Abraham and Turkish actor-director Yilmaz Erdogan.
The Madinat Arena
Located at the Madinat Jumeirah Conference Centre, the Madinat Arena is a purpose built state-of-the-art screening venue. The arena transforms into the ultimate destination to watch DIFF's line-up of gala screenings. Guests will walk the red carpet before experiencing the ultimate in cinema luxury and watching a DIFF film in true VIP style.
The Madinat Theatre
The Madinat Theatre can be found in the Souk Madinat Jumeirah. Don't miss the opportunity of watching a DIFF film in this highly prestigious entertainment venue or attend one of the events that are hosted here throughout the festival this year.
The Mall of the Emirates
Movie buffs can enjoy the best of films from around the world at VOX cinemas, Mall of the Emirates. VOX's 14-cinema complex offers the latest in technology and comfort. DIFF's box office is situated within the Mall of the Emirates, making it easy and convenient to purchase tickets for DIFF films. Film tickets include free parking, when you validate your parking ticket at the box office.
The Beach, JBR
With a prime location on the beachfront adjacent to Jumeriah Beach Residences, this venue provides the opportunity to watch DIFF films on the region's largest open air beach cinema screen. This is the first year the venue is open to visitors of DIFF and thanks to the newly-built marina tram, getting to the venue couldn't be easier.
DIFF have compiled some handy ticket packages catering to all tastes. For those who feel a little overwhelmed by the vast choice, the programmers picks packages will do the selecting for you all you need to do it sit down relax and enjoy the show. Holders of film ticket packages will enjoy priority booking privileges 48 hours before the box office opens to the general public.
- 25 Tickets Deal – includes 25 regular screening tickets for 500AED
- 10 Tickets Deal – includes 10 regular screening tickets for 274AED
- Red Carpet Gala Package – 7 tickets for each of the red carpet gala events for 550AED
- DIFF Programmers Picks – includes 1 ticket for admission to 3 different screenings picked by the expert programmers for 80AED (select from: the Arab Film Package, the Documentary Film Package, the Cinema of the World Film Package)
The Dubai International Film Festival runs from December 10–17, the full details and schedules can be found on the official website here