Dubai’s premier film event continues to grow. What’s On traces its journey from fledgling festival to star-studded event.

2004 First Festival attracts 13,000 people and features 76 films.
Opening film: Le Grand Voyage.
Honoured: Actor Omar Sharif.

2005 Screening admissions rise by 60 per cent. Open-air screenings are launched for the first time and 98 films are shown.
Opening film: Paradise Now.
Honoured: Actor Morgan Freeman.

2006 Record ticket sales, doubling its box office take from 2005 and adding an extra day to the event.
Opening film: Bobby.
Honoured: Director Oliver Stone.

2007 The Dubai Film Connection launches with the aim of raising the profile of Arab filmmakers.
Opening movie: Michael Clayton.
Honoured: Actor Danny Glover.

2008 Attracts 47,500 people. The Muhr Awards expand and Cinetech launches to raise the visibility of Arab cinema. DIFF Young Journalist Award and the FIPRESCI Prize are introduced.
Opening film: W.
Honoured: Director Terry Gilliam.

2009 More than 50,000 admissions, and the festival hosts the world premiere of UAE production City Of Life. Rhythm And Reels launches.
Honoured: Actor Amitabh Bachchan.

2010 Audiences see the opening film for free at The Walk at JBR.
Opening film: The King’s Speech.
Honoured: Actor Sean Penn.

2011 The eighth annual DIFF features 171 films from 56 nations.
Opening film: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.
Honoured: Director Werner Herzog and composer AR Rahman.

2012 More than 55,000 admissions and 50 world premieres. The IWC Filmmaker Award launches with Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett leading the jury.
Opening film: Life Of Pi.
Honoured: Director Michael Apted.