Films at DIFF: Your Guide to the Flicks

Films at DIFF: Your Guide to the Flicks

05 Dec 2013

As the Dubai International Film Festival kicks off, we reveal the movies to catch. Enjoy!

Saturday, 7 December

 Fearless optimist Anna (Kristen Bell) sets off on an epic journey—teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven—to find her sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.
INFO: 2pm, Madinat Arena

No one could have imagined the fate awaiting the horses of Fukushima. They almost died in the tsunami and were exposed to radiation inside the 20 km zone of the nuclear meltdown. They were left for weeks without fodder and shut away in stables for months. However, they are kept alive only because of the role they play in the grand annual horse festival with a 1,000 year history.
INFO: 2:15pm, MOE 10


Haneen-They came to look for work, leaving their country behind, and found themselves in a nation that has become closer than their homeland.
Unified Home- Unified Home presents testimonials from residents, who express their love for the UAE. Under the righteous leadership of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, people of diverse backgrounds were brought together to live in the modern, success story that the country has become.
INFO: 2:45pm, MOE 9


  • Fatima-  Nine-year-old Fatima overhears her parents talking about divorce. Milla, her best friend, finds out about Fatima’s fears and comes up with a great plan to make Fatima’s parents fall in love again.
  • Samar- Samar, 15, is a Bedouin girl who lives with her family in a tent near the Jordan River. Every day, she juggles four-hour long trips to school, domestic responsibilities and acting as a role model to her sisters. Due to her demanding routine, she discovers she is extremely fit and ready to compete in sports championships.
  • Wooden Hand- Five-year-old Amira lives with her mother in a small apartment in Tunis. She returns to her madrasa after the holidays in a playful mood, and glues her hand to a chair.
  • For Your Own Good- Half angel, half demon – Brahim Omri lives life on his terms. In the sixth grade, he skips school, steals and intercepts any accusatory mail going home.
    INFO: 6:00pm, MOE 12

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY is based on the eponymous Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tracy Letts. With an all-star cast including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Ewan McGregor, the film tells the dark, hilarious and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family. A family crisis brings the women back together at the Midwest house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.
INFO: 7:00pm, Madinat Arena

Years after his parents’ divorce, 17-year-old Ben goes off to visit his theatre director father Heinrich (played by the prolific German star Ulrich Tukur) during his holidays. Determined to experience Morocco to the fullest and with his relationship with his father taking a turn for the worse, Ben sets off into the underbelly of Marrakech and beyond. Part road trip, part family drama, EXIT MARRAKECH is a compelling film from the Academy Award-winning Caroline Link.
INFO: 8:45pm, MOE 5

Six different characters in Alexandria struggle with their fears. Amr visits his father on his death bed, trying to catch up on lost time. Moussa spends his day struggling to cross a street. Dahlia is lost in her worries about her wedding day. A young girl watches as her grandmother grows increasingly lifeless. After her husband’s death, Rawya is unable to sleep early, discovering an exciting life at night. Maha is set to leave the country and everything she knows behind. Each character shares the same feelings of fear, but never meets the others.
INFO: 9:15pm, MOE 12

Sunday, 8 December

January 2011. Events in Tunisia triggered massive uprisings throughout the Arab world. It was a historical moment that could not be missed by the journalists on the ground. They were the soldiers in the shadows, constantly on a quest for information and the truth. They operated as our eyes and our ears, even in the midst of the most violent conflicts, sometimes at the expense of their own lives. Lucas, Nicolas, Rémi, Nassim , Eyad and Ahmad are the reporters in WAR REPORTER, as the film follows them on their perilous journey starting from Tunisia through Egypt, Libya and Syria.
INFO: 6:15pm, MOE 7

After a brain hemorrhage, film-maker Maud wakes up paralyzed on one side of her body. Bedridden but determined to pursue her latest film project, she stumbles upon Vilko, a con man who swindles celebrities. He is arrogant, magnetic and mesmerizing and Maud wants him for her new film. Maud is a victim of his abuse of weakness.
INFO: 6:15pm, Madinat Theatre

Hiyam, a young factory worker, lives in a lower-middle-class neighbourhood, along with her co-workers. She is clearly under the spell of Salah, the factory's new supervisor, who has expressed his admiration for her. She believes love can transcend the class differences between them. However, when a pregnancy test is discovered in the factory premises, her immediate family and close friends accuse her of sinning. Hiyam decides not to defend herself and pays an enormous price in a society that fails to accept independent women. FACTORY GIRL examines the changes that take place in her life over the four seasons of the year. From falling in love to facing heartbreak, her life comes around full circle by the end of the year.
INFO: 8:30pm, Madinat Arena

In 1979, two 20-year-old Iranian Marxists, Kaveh and Fariba, are students of architecture and metallurgy respectively. The Iranian Revolution turns their country and their ideals of revolution and liberty upside down. Combining gripping personal accounts, scenes of daily life and metaphysical digressions.
INFO: 9:00pm, MOE 5

Eric Lomax was one of thousands of Allied prisoners of war forced to work on constructing the Thai-Burmese railway during the Second World War. His experiences left him traumatised and shut off from the world. Years later, he falls in love with the beautiful Patti, who is determined to rid Eric of his demons. When she discovers that the young Japanese officer who tormented her husband is still alive, she is faced with a terrible decision. Should Eric be given a chance to confront his past?

INFO: 9:30pm, Madinat Theatre

Monday, 9 December

In The Unknown Known, Academy Award-winning director Errol Morris offers a mesmerising portrait of Donald Rumsfeld, the larger-than-life figure who served as George W. Bush’s secretary of defence and as the principal architect of the Iraq War. Rather than conducting a conventional interview, Morris has Rumsfeld perform and explain his “snowflakes” — the enormous archive of memos he wrote across his 50-year-long political career. The documentary explores how one man’s ideology, written out on paper, transformed America, changed the course of history — and ultimately led to war.
INFO: 12:30pm, MOE 2

Atletico Pabarile, the worst team of the Sardinian third league, is humbled, like every year, by Montecrastu, the team led by the arrogant Brai (Alessio Di Clemente). However, when young Matzutzi (Jacopo Cullin) returns to town, Atletico Pabarile starts winning one match after another. The story of the two teams soon intertwines with that of Cruciani (Stefano Accorsi), an ambitious referee at the highest international level. Things become complicated very quickly in this hilarious comedy.
INFO: 3:00pm, MOE 2

Based on an incredible true story of one man's fight for survival and freedom, 12 YEARS A SLAVE is set in pre-Civil War United States. Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free African-American New Yorker, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty from a slave owner (Michael Fassbender) and receiving unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity.
INFO: 4:45pm, Madinat Arena

On July 23, three weeks after the 1952 revolution, workers in Kafr Al Dawar went on strike, demanding an increase in wages and more rights. The uprising was quashed and military courts convicted civilians for the first time in the history of Egypt. Mostafa Khamis and Hasan Albakary were among the workers who were executed. Sixty years later, MY NAME IS MOSTAFA KHAMIS explores the events of the 1952 uprisings, and how the Egyptian workers’ movement was successfully quelled until February 1968, when their voices rose once again.
INFO: 9:00pm, MOE 11

Despite a paralyzed leg, 25-year-old Grigris dreams of being a dancer. His dreams are dashed when his uncle falls critically ill. To save him, Grigris resolves to work for petrol traffickers. The film also features some riveting dance moves and music by Senegalese composer Wasis Diop.
INFO: 9:00pm, MOE 8

Tuesday, 10 December

Between commitment and chaos, between courage and fear, between ideology and deviation and between chivalry and violence lies the street. They are a group of marginalized young men, known as the thugs of Al Lija and they reflect the chaos that characterizes their neighborhood in Beirut.
INFO: 12:15pm, MOE 11

Directed by and starring Ben Stiller, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY is the story of an ordinary office worker (Stiller) who escapes his anonymous life by daydreaming about a life of adventure, heroism and romance. However, when his job is threatened, he decides to take action in the real world, and he sets off on an extraordinary quest to set things right.
INFO: 4:30pm, Madinat Arena

In 1988, the Iraqi Ba’ath party murdered and buried 182,000 Kurds in 350 mass graves. One of very few survivors, Faraj climbed out from amongst the dead and was taken to the USA by Human Rights Watch. To raise awareness of the genocidal massacres, he formed the Iraqi Mass Graves Survivors’ group. This artistic and deeply moving film follows his return to Kurdistan, where, with four other survivors, he distributes 1,001 red apples and cloves as symbols of reconciliation and peace for families who had lost dear ones in the massacre.
INFO: 6:15pm, MOE 5

In their own words, the most successful jewel thieves of all time take audiences into their world: the post-Milosovic Balkans, the modern diamond trade and a 21st century crime gang. Made over four years, the film features interviews with five members of the Pink Panther gang and associates – the same group responsible for the AED14m Dubai jewel heist in 2007. As many of the criminals are caught (two in Dubai after the robbery) and extradited, this film asks: Is this the end of the Pink Panthers?
INFO: 6:45pm, MOE 9

MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM is a celebration of Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary journey from his childhood in a rural village through to his election as President of South Africa in the country’s first democratic vote. In this intimate and unflinching portrait of ‘Madiba’, the world discovers a man who is known for his charismatic appeal, who is a boxing enthusiast, and who is ultimately immortalised in history as one of the greatest freedom fighters in the modern era. Epic in scale, the film features stunning performances by Idris Elba and Naomie Harris.
INFO: 8:30pm, Madinat Arena


Wednesday, 11 December


Bettie (Catherine Deneuve) is an aging ex-beauty queen, jilted by her lover. Dealing with the financial difficulties of running her family restaurant alone, she is unsure of her next move. To escape from her uncertain life, Bettie jumps into her car and starts to drive. But her journey goes far from planned with chance encounters, a stopover at an ex-Miss France gala, renewed ties with her estranged daughter, the realization that she has a grandson and possibly, at the end of the road, love.

INFO: 5:15pm, MOE 10

A father and his two children wander the streets of modern-day Taipei. The father scrapes out a meagre income as a human billboard for luxury apartments, while his young son and daughter roam the supermarkets and malls, living off free food samples. Each night the family takes shelter in an abandoned building, where the father is strangely affected by a hypnotic mural.
INFO: 2:45pm, MOE 1

The film is set in a world where conflicting forces struggle to regulate the illicit drug market in Cape Town, infamous for one of the highest murder rates in the world. Braaim, a gang leader, navigates a violent and conflicted physical and psychological landscape, one in which honour and betrayal are all too often one side of the same coin. He is torn between securing the future of his young family, while guiding his men through a deadly drug turf war.
INFO: 6:15pm, MOE 6


Ila, a housewife, tries to add some spice to her marriage – this time through her cooking. However, the special lunchbox she packs for her husband is mistakenly delivered to Saajan, a lonely man on the verge of retirement. She adds in a note in the following day’s lunchbox, and triggers a strange relationship with Saajan. Through the lunchbox, the two embark on a curious journey of discovery, sharing their regrets, fears and joys through these notes.

INFO: 7:30PM, Madinat Arena

Imagine being able to watch as Thomas Edison turned on the first light bulb, or as Benjamin Franklin received his first jolt of electricity. Particle Fever follows six scientists during the launch of the Large Hadron Collider, the biggest and most expensive experiment in the history of the planet. As they seek to unravel the mysteries of the universe, 10,000 scientists from over 100 countries joined together in pursuit of a single goal: to recreate conditions that existed just moments after the Big Bang and find the Higgs boson, potentially explaining the origin of all matter.
INFO: 9:30pm, MOE 9


Thursday, 12 December


A couple, separated for the past 15 years, find themselves together again for the duration of a two-day journey to fetch their son, who has been hospitalised in another country after a serious ski accident. This light-hearted and life-affirming road movie, which takes us from Brussels to the summit of the Alps, explores what they still feel for each other: indifference, rancour, jealousy, friendship and perhaps even love.
INFO: 4:30pm, MOE 9


Steel-town America is brought to life in this powerful drama by Scott Cooper (CRAZY HEART). Russell Baze (Christian Bale) has a rough life: he works a dead-end blue-collar job at the local steel mill by day, and cares for his terminally ill father by night. When Russell’s brother, Rodney (Casey Affleck), returns home from serving time in Iraq, he gets lured into one of the most ruthless crime rings in the Northeast and mysteriously disappears. The police fail to crack the case, so – with nothing left to lose – Russell takes matters into his own hands, putting his life on the line to seek justice for his brother.
INFO: 4:30pm, Madinat Arena


Indigenous cowboy detective Jay Swan returns to his hometown to solve the murder of a teenage girl, whose body is found under the highway trucking route out of town. Swan is alienated from both the predominantly white police force and his own community, including his teenage daughter. He stands alone in his determination to fight back for his town and his people.
INFO: 6:00pm, Madinat Theatre


Based on the eponymous novel by Rabindranath Tagore, THE LAST POEM follows Amit Ray, an Oxford-educated iconoclastic barrister, who falls in love with the simple Labanya. Their romance builds up in the misty hills of Shillong through a series of dialogues and poems that they write for each other. Despite their courtship, the lovers decide to marry other suitors – believing that the monotony of marriage will kill the purity of their love. However, Amit soon finds himself caught up in discontent and is unable to let go.
INFO: 9:00pm, MOE 2

Two Palestinian brothers – Samy and Milad (aka Stereo) – plan on immigrating to Canada after the Israeli air force bombs their family home. Milad used to be a wedding singer but when his wife died in the attack, he becomes disillusioned with his life in Palestine. The bombing also left Samy mute and deaf. The two set about earning money for their travel by buying a secondhand sound system that they rent out for events in Ramallah.
INFO: 9:30pm, MOE 12


Friday, 13 December


The eternal battle between words and pictures is visited in this film, set in a New England prep school. Jack Marcus (Clive Owen) is a lauded poet, whose talent might be drying up. When Dina Delasanto (Juliette Binoche), a celebrated artist, arrives at the school, Marcus triggers a friendly war between his English literature students and Delasanto's art class. Marcus and Delasanto, though famous in their own worlds, are resigned to teaching in the prep school due to personal reasons. As the 'war' gains traction in this light-hearted romance, they find in each other inspiration, a friend, and, perhaps even, a partner.
INFO: 8:30pm, Madinat Arena


Based on the inspirational story of Robyn Davidson, a young woman who went on a 2,700 km trek across the deserts of western Australia with her four camels and faithful dog, TRACKS is an adaptation of Davidson's memoir of the same name. Mia Wasikowska delivers a stunning performance as Davidson, and the hauntingly beautiful Australian desert is a memorable backdrop to this story of courage, self-discovery and adventure.
INFO: 9:00pm, Madinat Theatre


The introverted high school teacher Parker Sithole is presented to a rural South African school as a man "of good report". Parker is attracted to a mesmerising young woman he meets at a local bar, only to discover that she is one of his students. The seemingly gentle man soon develops a dark side that no one could have predicted.
INFO: 5:15pm, MOE 5


Based on the acclaimed, eponymous novel by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, HALF OF A YELLOW SUN is a sweeping romantic drama about the glamorous twins Olanna and Kainene. After their expensive English education, the two return to their privileged life in newly-independent Nigeria, preoccupied with their romantic entanglements. However, they soon become caught up in the events of the Nigerian civil war, and are drawn into a journey that is powerful, intensely emotional and, as the response of readers around the world has shown, extremely touching.
INFO: 2:00pm, MOE 5


On the day of her birthday, 11-year-old Angeliki jumps off the balcony and falls to her death with a smile on her face. When the police and social services investigate the cause of this apparent suicide, Angeliki’s family insists that her death was an accident. The family’s secrets are slowly unravelled as Angeliki’s younger brother unintentionally reveals clues during the investigation. One by one they will break down, until violence will, once again, offer a solution.
INFO: 8:30pm, MOE 7


Saturday, 14 December


For the first time in movie history, audiences will truly see and feel what it was like when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. WALKING WITH DINOSAURS is the ultimate immersive experience, utilising state-of-the-art 3D to transport audiences to the middle of a thrilling and epic pre-historic world, where an underdog dinosaur triumphs to become a hero for the ages.
INFO: 2:00pm, Madinat Arena


Huddled against the unforgiving New York winter, Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) struggles to make it as a musician and lives at the mercy of both friends and strangers. His misadventures take him on an odyssey to audition for music mogul Bud Grossman—and back again. Featuring musicians Justin Timberlake, Marcus Mumford and the Punch Brothers, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS was awarded the Grand Prix at Cannes 2013.
INFO: 4:15pm, Madinat Theatre


After SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (2012) and THE FIGHTER (2010), David O. Russell returns to the big screen with AMERICAN HUSTLE and reunites with Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale in this true story of con artist Irving Rosenfield (Bale) and his partner in crime Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). The two are forced to work with a federal agent (Cooper) and turn the tables on other cons, mobsters, and politicians – namely, Angelo Errichetti, the volatile mayor of impoverished Camden, New Jersey.
INFO: 7:00pm, Madinat Arena


THE MUMMY: THE NIGHT OF COUNTING YEARS had its world premiere at Venice in 1970, and has topped the list of DIFF’s 100 greatest Arab films, published in the newly-released book, Cinema of Passion. The film is based on a true event: the 1881 discovery of the Deir al-Bahari cache, a complex of ancient Egyptian monuments. Wanis (Ahmed Maraei) is a young man torn between his loyalty to his late father (who sold artifacts to Cairo merchants), and the moral duty to reveal the location of the tombstone to archaeologist Kamal (Mohammed Khairy). It is a discovery that results in betrayal and even murder.
INFO: 8:00pm, Burj Park