VIDEO SPECIAL: The films and the stars coming to DIFF 2014
What’s On previews films at Dubai International Film Festival 2014 (DIFF 2014), including new movie trailers, and the Hollywood actors in Dubai for DIFF.
The first round of films to be featured at the Dubai International Film Festival have been confirmed. And it’s another stellar line-up for the region’s film event.
Following the likes of American Hustle, The Railway Man, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, Frozen, Inside Llewyn Davis, Champ Of The Camp and 12 Years A Slave – which went on to win Best Film at the Oscars earlier this year – organisers have once again landed a series of top notch Hollywood productions to partner the very best in local talent.
Among the A-listers to star in the Cinema of the World section of the 11th instalment of DIFF are Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Reese Witherspoon, Channing Tatum, Steve Carell and Laura Dern. Behind the camera, Oscar-nominated Jean-Marc Vallee is represented in the form of Wild, starring Witherspoon, while debutant Andrea Di Stefano’s Escobar: Paradise Lost is sure to set tongues wagging.
From the top, then. BAFTA-nominated director Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game sees Sherlock Holmes star Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, the British brainiac who led the campaign to crack the German Enigma Code during WWII. The Imitation Game also stars Knightley who scooped the ‘The People’s Choice’ gong at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival for her role.
There’s also Academy Award-nominated director Bennett Miller’s (Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt, and Capote, led by Philip Seymour Hoffman) tragic tale of wrestling champions Mark and Dave Schultz in Foxcatcher. Starring Tatum and Mark Ruffalo as the combative brothers, the film also sees renowned funny man Carell portraying the sinister multi-millionaire coach John du Pont. For his direction, Miller won the top gong at the recent Cannes Film Festival.
Vallée, whose most recent work was Dallas Buyers Club, for which Matthew McConaughey won Best Actor at the 2014 Oscars, turns his hand to bestselling author Cheryl Strayed’s adventure, Wild. With screenplay from Nick Hornby (An Education, Fever Pitch), the film tracks Witherspoon, riddled with demons after a marriage breakdown and heroin abuse, on a hike along the Pacific Crest Trail.
Escobar: Paradise Lost is the directorial debut of Italian actor Di Stefano (Life Of Pi). Told through the voice of a Canadian surfer, played by Hunger Games star Josh Hutcherson, it charts the final few years of the notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, portrayed by Benicio del Toro.
There is also Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, a Jury Prize winner at Cannes. The director’s fifth feature gets up close and personal with a feisty, widowed, single mother as she finds herself burdened with the full-time custody of her 15-year-old son, who suffers with ADHD.
Actor Paul Bettany’s writer-director debut Shelter – a drama which follows Hannah (Jennifer Connelly) and Tahir (Anthony Mackie) – is also set to screen. Described as ‘a love letter to the great New York dramas of the 1970s, it is an unsparing story of loss, love, sacrifice, redemption and, ultimately, hope’.
Elsewhere in the first round of releases, is Argentinian movie Wild Tales, crime and punishment picture Black Souls, comedy drama Samba, Indian writer-director Chaitanya Tamhane’s debut feature film Court, Pakistani filmmaker Afia Nathaniel’s Dukhtar, British writer-director Guy Myhill’s impressive debut feature The Goob, and Croatian film These Are The Rules.
Reflecting on the first announcement, Masoud Amralla Al Ali, DIFF Artistic Director, said: “DIFF’s Cinema of the World selection offers a wide variety from the world’s most anticipated films of the year, many of which are considered potential contenders for the 2015 Academy Award nominations. Our rich and diverse slate of foreign language films present unique viewing opportunities for the multitude of nationalities residing in the UAE. In summary, the 11th edition offers everything from sneak previews of big-budget Hollywood films to no-budget films that are breaking new ground, films from first-time filmmakers through to the some of the most established directors working today.”
Details of the line-up followed the announcement that British actress Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow and The Adjustment Bureau), had joined the jury for the third annual IWC Film Maker Award at the festival.
The award, a collaboration between the festival and the Swiss watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen, offers a cash prize of US$100,000 (Dh367,000) to help filmmakers from the Middle East transfer their vision from script to screen and will be presented to the winning filmmaker at a gala on December 11.
Australian actress and Academy award winner Cate Blanchett had been on the jury for the award’s past two editions.
“I’m truly excited about visiting Dubai, and it’s a great honour for me to be a part of the IWC Filmmaker Award jury and support a valuable initiative that promotes the art of film in the Gulf,” Blunt said. “It will be fascinating to see the scripts and discover forthcoming films that will undoubtedly touch the hearts and minds of audiences in the region and internationally.”
This year’s winning project will be selected from three shortlisted scripts, which will assessed by a jury of international film-industry experts, including Blunt. Last year, Emirati director Waleed Al Shehhi walked away with the grand prize for his script, Dolphins.