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DIFF announces festival gala screenings

A selection of films from around the world are to be showcased next week at the 13th annual Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), its organisers have announced.

Held at the Madinat Theatre at Dubai’s Souk Madinat Jumeirah, the festival runs from December 7-14 and includes numerous cinema screenings and red carpet gala events.  

On December 8, festival goers will experience the world premiere of ‘Befikre’, a Hindi romantic comedy from Aditya Chopra, starring Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor. This will be followed by the latest work from two-time Oscar winner Ang Lee, who brings ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’ – based on the bestselling novel of the same name – to DIFF.

The weekend will get underway at the Madinat Arena on Friday 9 with a triple bill of screenings starting with the Children’s Gala performance of family favourite ‘Swallows and Amazons’, followed by Emirati director Ali F. Mostafa’s much-anticipated third feature film ‘The Worthy’. British romantic comedy ‘Their Finest’, directed by Lone Scherfig and starring Gemma Arterton, Bill Nighy and Sam Claflin, closes the day.

Then, on Saturday, the Madinat Arena plays host to four gala screenings kicking off in the morning with the 3D animated comedy family film ‘Rock Dog’, directed by Ash Brannon and featuring the voices of Luke Wilson and J.K Simons. The romantic musical comedy-drama ‘La La Land’, written and directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and J. K. Simmons, will show at the Arena in the afternoon.

The evening galas that day open with provocative Egyptian drama ‘The Preacher’ directed by Magdy Ahmed Aly and starring Amr Saad, Dorra Zarrouk and Ahmed Magdy, and close with John Lee Hancock’s ‘The Founder’, a biographical drama about the founder of McDonald’s, starring Michael Keaton.

The World Premiere of Lebanese comedy ‘Solitaire’, from director Sophie Boutros and starring Julia Kassar, Ali El Khalil and Bassam Koussa, and drama ‘A Monster Calls’ from director Juan Antonio Bayona and featuring Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones and Liam Neeson, both feature on Sunday 11.

Then, on Monday, festival-goers can enjoy two screenings beginning with Argentina’s foreign language Oscar entry ‘The Distinguished Citizen’, directed by Gaston Duprat, and concluding with ‘Manchester By The Sea’, an acclaimed American drama directed and written by Kenneth Lonergan and starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams.

On Tuesday, Philippe Falardeau brings his biographical sports drama The Bleeder’, starring Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber and Ron Pearlman, to the Madinat Arena. The star-studded ensemble American drama ‘Collateral Beauty’ from David Frankel follows, starring Will Smith, Edward Norton, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Naomie Harris and Keira Knightly.

The Closing Night Gala will see the first of the much-anticipated standalone Star Wars films, ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, screened at DIFF. The epic adventure from Lucasfilm is directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker.

Masoud Amralla Al Ali, DIFF’s artistic director, said: “DIFF’s special gala screenings are the crowning glory of the Festival and something we really look forward to each year. The setting at the Madinat Arena adds even more magic to the wonder of cinema and provides a truly memorable film experience for all our guests as they have the chance to view some of the latest and greatest films from around the globe in a bespoke venue created just for the Festival.”

Movie buffs can get a slice of red carpet gala glamour for AED100, with regular arena screening tickets at the Madinat Arena priced at AED50. The arena seats1,800 spectators.

This year’s festival will also see DIFF films screened VOX Cinemas at Mall of the Emirates and THE BEACH in JBR.

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