The 10 Must-See Films at DIFF 2017

The 14th edition of Dubai International Film Festival has announced the full list of films screening throughout the festival. It opens at the Madinat Jumeirah on 6 December with Hostiles and the closing film will be the hugely anticipated Star Wars: The Last Jedi – screening on 13 December, a day before it goes on general release.

DIFF 2017 will screen a total of 140 films from 51 countries spanning feature, non-fiction and short films, including 50 world and international premieres and 81 MENA premieres.

Here’s our pick of the top 10 films showing around the city during the festival.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
DIFF 2017

With some bookmakers this comic drama is the current favorite to win Best Picture at the next Academy Awards and has already won the Best Screenplay Award at the Venice Film Festival and the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival. Seven months after a girl was murdered, her mother (Frances McDormand) puts up billboards directed at the beloved local police chief (Woody Harrelson) but when his deputy (Sam Rockwell) gets involved things take a darker turn.
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Hostiles 
DIFF 2017

Director Scott Cooper’s Western starring Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike will show at the opening gala. Set in 1892, Hostiles tells the story of a legendary Army Captain (Christian Bale), who after stern resistance, reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief (Wes Studi) and his family back to tribal lands. Making the harrowing and perilous journey from Fort Berringer, an isolated Army outpost in New Mexico, to the grasslands of Montana, the former rivals encounter a young widow (Rosamund Pike), whose family was murdered on the plains. Together, they must join forces to overcome the punishing landscape, hostile Comanche and vicious outliers that they encounter along the way.
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The Death of Stalin
DIFF 2017

Armando Iannucci’s darkly comic satire about Russia during the last days of Stalin’s regime and the chaos that follows his death. It opened the Toronto Film Festival to huge acclaim and has been a critical hit in the UK. Iannucci is the creative force behind political TV comedy series including VEEP and The Thick of It and this mines the same absurdism in serious situations. The cast includes Michael Palin, Simon Russell Beale, Steve Buscemi, Jason Isaacs, Rupert Friend, Olga Kurylenko and Jeffrey Tambor.
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You Were Never Really Here
DIFF 2017

BAFTA award winner Lynne Ramsay’s film premiered at Cannes to a seven-minute standing ovation and has been dubbed “Taxi Driver for the 21st century”. The thriller follows a brutal and troubled man (Joaquin Phoenix) who is trying to track down a missing teenage girl in a violent, corrupt and cynical world. Not one for a first date, but  Ramsay is a fine filmmaker and knows how to direct dark and moody dramas.
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The Shape of Water
DIFF 2017

Also heavily tipped to be in the running for Best Picture at the next Oscars is this film from Mexican director Guillermo del Toro. It has already received the prestigious Golden Lion Award for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival. Much like his masterpiece Pan’s Labrynth, this is a fantastical modern fairy tale but here it’s set against the backdrop of the Cold War in the United States. In a secret laboratory Elisa is trapped in a life of isolation, but her life is changed when she discovers a secret classified experiment.
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No Date, No Signature
DIFF 2017

The second feature by Iranian actor and director Vahid Jalilvand was well received at the last Venice Film Festival. Dr. Kaveh Nariman knocks into a motorcycle with a family on board while driving home from work one evening. All are unscathed, except for the motorcyclist Moosa’s eight year-old son, who suffers bruises. Nariman evades Moosa’s request to call the police by insisting he is a doctor, and pays Moosa a compensation for his motorcycle and the fees for the family’s supposed trip to the clinic. The next morning, Nariman discovers the body of Moosa’s son at the hospital.
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Downsizing
DIFF 2017

Thanks to a radical new scientific technique perfected by boffins in Norway, it’s now possible for humans to shrink down to five inches in height. Overpopulation and the cost of living make this an attractive proposition to Paul and Audrey Safranek (Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig), a couple living in Omaha who decide to sell up, shrink down and move into a mini-community, Leisureland. The idea being, that by miniaturizing, vital resources can be conserved and a greater quality of life can be achieved.
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The Message
DIFF 2017

The epic historical drama from Syrian-American director Moustapha Akkad, is celebrating its 40th anniversary and gets a screening at DIFF with the English 4K edition. The film follows the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) starting with Islam’s beginnings in Mecca in which the Muslims are persecuted, the exodus to Medina, and ending with the Muslims’ triumphant return to Mecca. The majority of the story is told from the point-of-view of peripheral individuals such as Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib (Muhammad’s uncle), Abu Sufyan (the leader of Mecca) and his wife Hind bint Utbah (enemies of Islam who later become Muslims themselves).
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Radiogram
DIFF 2017

Award-winning short-film director Rouzie Hassanova explores the power of music in her first feature film. Set in the director’s native Bulgaria in 1971 – and based on an inspiring true story – under the Communist regime, any religious expression or music from the West is viewed, and punished, as a national threat. A father decides to walk almost 100km to the nearest town, so he can buy a new radio for his rock ‘n roll obsessed son. It’s a feel-good drama about identity, expression and freedom.

Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?
DIFF 2017

Japanese animation filmmakers Nobuyuki Takeuchi and Akiyuki Shinbo make their DIFF debut with an animated romantic drama set on a single summer’s day. A group of young men are planning to watch fireworks from the town’s lighthouse, and wonder amongst themselves if fireworks are round or flat when seen from the side. Somewhere else, the class idol, Nazuna, asks the boy who likes her, Norimichi, to elope with her.
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What Will People Say
DIFF 2017

From Norwegian-Pakistani actress, writer and director, Iram Haq, comes this tale of 16-year-old Nisha, a perfect Pakistani daughter living a double life. After her father catches her in bed with her boyfriend, the film’s protagonist is taken from her home and her friends in Norway and thrown head-first into a new life in Pakistan. Sent to live with her relatives she must now learn to adapt in her new life, in a new country, and in a culture she has never before experienced.
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Tickets can be purchased from the DIFF box office, which will open online from Friday, 24 November http://www.dubaifilmfest.com and at the box office at VOX Cinemas Mall of the Emirates. Tickets will also be available from the Madinat Arena, Madinat Jumeirah from Tuesday, 5 December and from the Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah on Wednesday, 6 December.

For Vogue Man Arabia – click here for original.

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