Popcorn at the ready – here’s our guide to who and what to look out for during this year’s festival

American Hustle In its tenth year, it’s fitting that the Dubai International Film Festival should have a spectacular screening lined up for the closing night gala. With award-winning director David O Russell at the helm and Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Robert De Niro heading up a stellar cast, American Hustle fits the bill nicely. Russell has also recruited his Silver Linings Playbook stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence for his follow-up project, which tells the story of brilliant con-man Irving Rosenfeld [Bale] and his partner and lover Sydney Prosser [Adams], who are forced into working for an unhinged FBI agent, DiMaso, played by Cooper. As DiMaso pushes the pair into a world of New Jersey mafia that is as dangerous as it is seductive, political operator Carmen Polito [Jeremy Renner] finds himself caught between the con artists and the law. Lawrence plays Irving Rosenfeld’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn, which has received awards buzz in the US. DIFF’s artistic director Masoud Amralla Al Ali said, “With an outstanding cast and compelling story, this is a film set to blow audiences away and end the tenth DIFF on a high note.”

Showing: Saturday December 14 at 7pm Madinat Arena.

Fruitvale Station Based on the true story of Oscar Grant, who was shot dead by police in California in the early hours of New Year’s Day, 2009, Fruitvale Station follows 22-year-old Oscar (Michael B Jordan) as he crosses paths with friends, enemies, family and strangers on the last day of his life. Ryan Coogler’s directorial debut took home the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at Sundance, and was named Best First Film at Cannes.

Showing: Monday December 9 at 8.30pm Madinat Arena.

The Railway Man Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman co-star in the true story of Eric Lomax, a British POW forced to endure horrific conditions as a labourer on the Thailand-Burma ‘Death’ Railway after being captured by the Japanese during the Second World War. Based on Lomax’s bestselling memoirs, The Railway Man chronicles his epic journey towards forgiving those who had done him unspeakable harm.

Showing: Sunday December 8 at 9.30pm Madinat Theatre

Ladder To Damascus This love story from prominent Syrian filmmaker Mohamad Malas – his first project after a long absence – is gaining momentum. Competing in the Muhr Arab Feature category, Ladder To Damascus follows Ghalia, who is inhabited by the soul of Zeina, a girl who drowned on the day she was born.

Showing: Tuesday December 10 at 9.15pm Madinat Theatre

May In The Summer Also competing in the Muhr Arab Feature category is this culture-clash comedy drama from Palestinian American Cherien Dabis. Writer and director Dabis also takes the title role in this tale of Christian May, a New York writer who returns to her native Jordan to marry her Muslim boyfriend – only to face the wrath of her traditional mother.

Showing: Saturday December 7 at 9.30pm Madinat Theatre. Monday December 9 3.30pm Mall of Emirates 9

Half Of A Yellow Sun Fans of Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will be looking forward to checking out the lavish film adaptation of her Orange Prize-winning novel Half Of A Yellow Sun. This sweeping tale tells the story of two sisters as they battle for love and independence against the backdrop of the Biafran War. Starring Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose, the film is being screened out of competition as part of the AsiaAfrica programme.

Showing: Wednesday December 11 at 9.45pm Mall of Emirates 2. Friday December 13 at 2pm Mall of Emirates 5.

Rock The Casbah The cast of Moroccan director Laila Marrakchi’s Rock The Casbah includes some of Arab cinema’s most acclaimed female stars – including Hiam Abbass and Nadine Labaki (of Caramel fame). Set in Tangiers, the film sees dramatic family secrets uncovered as three sisters reunite for their father’s funeral.

Showing: Thursday December 12 at 8.30pm Madinat Arena. Thursday December 12 at 8.30pm Madinat Arena. Friday December 13 at 8.30pm Mall of Emirates 5

The Unknown Known The man behind The Fog Of War returns with this documentary exploring the career of former US secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld. Errol Morris’ film delves into the long-time political heavyweight’s recollections of serving under four Republican presidents – taking in Vietnam, the Cold War, Desert Storm and the War On Terror.

Showing: Monday December 9 at 12.30 at Mall of Emirates 2. Wednesday December 11 at 6.30pm Mall of Emirates 7

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty Ben Stiller directs and stars in this adaptation of James Thurber’s classic short story, which also features Kristen Wiig and Oscar winners Shirley MacLaine and Sean Penn. Stiller plays Walter, an ordinary Joe who escapes his humdrum existence by disappearing into a world of fantasies and daydreams.

Showing: Tuesday December 10 at 4.30pm Madinat Arena

Frozen This Disney blockbuster follows heroine Anna on an epic mountain adventure with mountain man Kristoff and his reindeer Sven, as they race to find Anna’s sister Elsa and save their kingdom from eternal winter.

Showing: Saturday December 7 at 2pm Madinat Arena

Walking with Dinosaurs The ultimate 3D adventure, Walking With Dinosaurs gives audiences the chance to glimpse what it was like back when the mighty T-Rex roamed the earth. The film sees underdog dinosaur Patchi triumph against the odds to become a hero.

Showing: Saturday December 14 at 2pm Madinat Arena

Inside Llewyn Davis The Coen brothers’ latest project – loosely based on the life of ‘60s folk music icon Dave von Ronk – scooped the Cannes Film Festival jury’s Grand Prix earlier this year. Newcomer Oscar Isaac stars alongside Carey Mulligan, John Goodman and Justin Timberlake.

Showing: Saturday December 14 at 4.45pm Madinat Theatre.

How I Live Now The latest big-screen adaptation of popular teen fiction, How I Live Now stars Irish actress Saoirse Ronan as heroine Daisy. Based on the prize winning novel by Megan Rosoff, the film sees New Yorker Daisy sent to live with relatives in the English countryside, only to find herself fighting for survival after war breaks out.

Showing: Thursday December 12 at 1.30pm Mall of Emirates 5