On December 12, Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) returns for another year, this time bringing with it a more accessible calendar of events than ever. Organisers also promise us a string of movie stars: Hollywood actors Sean Penn, Colin Firth, Carey Mulligan, Colin Farrell, Jean Reno, Ed Harris, Kelly Brook and Jim Sturgess will all be taking turns lighting up the red carpet in Dubai.
Established seven years ago in a bid to develop the film industry in Dubai, DIFF has grown over the past two years to become an important part of the international film festival circuit (it’s also the oldest in the region), so much so that last year’s event featured the world premiere of box-office smash Avatar. This year, 157 films will be shown, the first of which will be an exclusive gala screening of Oscar-tipped historical drama The King’s Speech, taking place at the Madinat Jumeirah; leading man Colin Firth will be flying in for a guest appearance. If you fancy getting involved, head down to The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence on the opening night, where there will be a live broadcast from the red carpet followed by a free open air screening of the film, with entry on a first-come, first-served basis.
‘We’ve really been working to get more people involved, and that’s why we’ve made a huge effort to have The King’s Speech shown for free,’ explains DIFF managing director Shivani Pandya. ‘The other nights won’t be free, but tickets for the film screenings are only Dhs25, and they’ll take place at the weekend.’ Throughout the event, which runs until December 19, films will also be screened at CineStar Mall of the Emirates, the First Group Theatre and the Madinat Arena.
Sean Penn will be this year’s Western recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, with Malian film director Souleymane Cisse and Arab icon Sabah receiving the Asia-Africa and Arabic awards respectively. There will be two ‘Conversation With…’ sessions on December 13 with Penn and Colin Firth, where members of the public will have a chance to quiz the two Hollywood stars. With this year’s roster featuring several pictures already creating an Oscar buzz, including The King’s Speech, Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours and Tron: Legacy, plus the international premiere of The Nutcracker in 3D, it looks set to be the most exciting – and accessible – DIFF yet.