From the stars coming to the films to see, here’s what we know about DIFF this year…plus, scroll down for a chance to win a ‘money-can’t-buy’ ticket to the festival…

The Dubai International Film Festival is coming back and it’s bigger than ever. Here are some of the highlights that you won’t want to miss….

1. The Star Wars event

We can barely contain our excitement that Rogue One: A Star Wars story is the film set to close the festival on December 14. The latest addition to the iconic sci-fi franchise is a standalone story about a group of heroes and their mission to steal the plans to the Death Star.

The film is set for general release on December 15, making this a real treat for UAE fans. We’ll be polishing up our Stormtrooper outfits…

2. The Hollywood Icon


To quote his most famous line in Jurassic Park: “Hold onto your butts” – Samuel L Jackson is coming to Dubai. The actor will be receiving a lifetime achievement award as part of the festival. We’ll be the ones standing in the Madinat Jumeirah all day hoping to get a glimpse of the legend.

3. The Oscar bait

One of the things that makes DIFF a highlight of Dubai’s calendar is the fact that it’s known for showcasing Oscar favourites and this year is no exception. In particular, we can’t wait to see La La Land, a musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone that is playing at the fest’ and is already tipped to win big at the Academy Awards.

Then there’s Jackie, a fascinating look at the life of the inimitable First Lady played by Natalie Portman, which might just help the Black Swan actress nab her second Oscar.

4. Your new TV obsession

If you haven’t yet watched Westworld yet (a) why not? and (b) make sure you catch up before the festival kicks off. An episode of the hit HBO TV series is set to screen at DIFF, and two of the stars – Jeffrey Wright and Luke Hemsworth (yes, brother of Chris and Liam) – will be flying in and making an appearance at the Dubai festival.

5. The retro gems

It’s not just about the new up-and-coming films, oh no – the festival also has a reputation for screening beloved old school movies and this year will be no different. We’re particularly looking forward to seeing A Fistful of Dollars (starring Clint Eastwood at his best) and Batman: The Movie, the wonderfully campy Adam West film, which couldn’t be more different from Christopher Nolan’s gritty Dark Knight trilogy.

6. The Hollywood talent


As well as Samuel L Jackson, Jeffrey Wright and Luke Hemsworth, you should also keep your eyes peeled for Sharlto Copley (pictured above in District 9), Bill Nighy and actress and philanthropist Eva Longoria.

7. The beach screenings

What could be better than watching a film on a beanbag chair under the stars? DIFF will be conducting free film screenings on The Beach near JBR. We’ll bring you more details on those soon.

8. The local talent

DIFF is all about championing local talent on an international stage, and this year will see 13 films created by UAE filmmakers screened as they compete for the Muhr Emirati award. Again, we’ll bring you more details on the ones to see soon.

9. The family fun

There’s always plenty to keep the kids happy during DIFF, and this year’s big family-friendly screening will be Swallows and Amazons, an adaptation of a beloved series of books by Arthur Ransome.

10. The variety

If there’s one word you could use to describe the selection of films at this year’s festival, it’s “diverse”. There will be 156 films screened in total (more than ever before). These films come from 55 countries and are in more than 44 languages. We’re especially excited for The Eagle Huntress, a film about Aishol-pan, a 13-year-old girl, who trains to become the first female in 12 generations of her Kazakh family to become an eagle hunter.

We’re also looking forward to Mali Blues, a documentary set in Mali about the healing power of music.

See you there? More info about the film festival, which runs from December 7 to 14, can be found at its website.


The winner will get to walk the red carpet, attend the screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, one of 2016’s most anticipated films, followed by an exclusive after party with complimentary all included food, beverage and entertainment where they can also rub shoulders with celebrities and filmmakers.

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Usual terms and conditions apply.

*Please note a winner will be chosen on Monday November 28*

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