There is great power in imagination. Unlike any other living thing in this world, we humans have the ability to recount stories to one another and live lives other than our own without actual experience. And storytelling is the essence of a good film.
Film has always played a role in starting discussions and creating a dialogue. Whether it's about social stigmas, technology, love, entertainment or how the world is changing around us, the power of film has proven itself to be infinite and necessary to our cultural survival.
This year the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) recognises film's power of imagination through the theme, Infinite Perspective. The festival, which will be running from December 9 - 16, mainly in Madinat Jumeirah, will feature 55 world and international premieres, 46 MENA premieres, 11 Middle East premieres, 17 GCC premieres as well as documentaries and short films. It's an impressive line-up.
"Everybody who comes to this film festival, I want them to go back with something," says Abdulhamid Juma Chairman of DIFF at the press conference held yesterday. "This is what I wish for. I wish for great dialogue, continuous dialogue, and it's more important in this time to have this dialogue."
The festival will open December 9 with the suspense drama Room. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson and based on the bestselling novel by Emma Donoghue, Room is a story of survival, family and love. It recounts the tale of a mother played by Brie Larson who is held captive for years with her five-year-old son Jacob Tremblay. They finally gain freedom, allowing the boy to experience the outside world for the first time. Closing the festival on December 16 is the comic drama The Big Short. Based on Michael Lewis' best-selling novel and featuring an impressive cast that includes, Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell. The actors play four men who predicted the collapse of the credit and housing markets in the mid 2000's.
DIFF will not only roll out the red carpet and screen some of the most exciting films from around the world. International stars such as Jake Gyllenhaal, Eva Longoria and Melanie Griffith, to name a few, are set to make an appearance in this year's festival. However, it's interesting to note that this year's focus is taking a closer look at the screening of the films themselves as well as talent within the region.
The 12th edition of the festival is now, more than ever, dedicated to raising the profile of filmmakers in the region and taking them to the global stage. The quality of filmmaking and the regional industry has grown exponentially with the importance of DIFF as the film festival in the region.
This year DIFF will give audiences the opportunity to immerse themselves in films from across the Arab region. Film goers are can choose from an impressive line up of contemporary Arab cinema with more than 70 biopics, comedies, dramas and love stories from the region, Levant and North Africa. Two of the most anticipated will be Zinzana, the neo-thriller from Emirati director Majid Al Ansari and the animated movie Bilal by Ayman Jamal and Khurram.
Equally exciting is DIFF's partnership with FILMFARE Middle East magazine, which is celebrating its 5th anniversary in the region. The magazine will honour Bollywood's Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, who along with their Dilwale team are expected to make an appearance along with Pakistani actor Fawad Khan and south Indian star Nivin Pauly.
Beyond the glamour of the red carpet, dark cinema rooms and the smell of popcorn, DIFF will also have a great focus on film education. Throughout the festival there will be a wide range of more than 28 panel discussions and master classes at the Dubai Film Market. Highlights include a conversation with Netflix Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos and a whole day devoted to film finance and an exploration of virtual reality.
There will also be networking sessions for serious industry businesses, offering total script-to-screen support for emerging filmmakers including talent development, co-production, post-production support and trade platform.
With the UAE film industry and market growing and moving in the right direction, DIFF's responsibility is also growing bigger.
Not only does it bring cultures and races from across the UAE together through the power of film but DIFF is dedicated to nurture Arab filmmakers and educate audiences.
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