Dubai International Film Festival 2015: what you need to know

Back for its 12th year, DIFF brings Hollywood's stars to Dubai. Here's what to see and where to see it.

Neil Churchill December 8, 2015

In recent years Dubai has grown accustomed to welcoming some of the world’s most notable actors to its shores.

Normally the A-listers are just in town for a holiday, or are inexplicably linked to a restaurant opening or niche trade event. This time however, they’re here for work.

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) returns for its 12th year on December 9, and promises to be another blockbuster with 134 films from 60 countries being showcased across eight days, with 55 world premieres. 

The celebs flying in include Dev Patel, Melanie Griffith, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and man of the moment Jake Gyllenhaal, who will be collecting his Variety’s International Star of the Year award.

Some of Bollywood’s biggest names will also be present, including Shah Rukh Khan, Naseeruddin Shah, Kajol and Kalki Koechlin.

What to watch      

With 134 films being screened, there’s no chance you’re going to see even half that number, and with schedule clashes the way they are, you need to pick your film attendances carefully.

In the prestigious role of opening the festival this year is Room, a drama based on Emma Donoghue’s bestselling novel about a mother and son adapting to the real world after five years in captivity. Starring Brie Larson, the movie won the People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Watch the trailer above.

In the other notable slot, closing the festival will be Adam McKay’s Hollywood epic The Big Short. The film, about four outsiders in the world of finance who predicted the collapse of the credit markets in the mid-2000s, features an ensemble cast in Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell. 

Other films not to miss include The Daughter, starring Geoffrey Rush, The Truth, starring Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett, Concussion starring Will Smith, The Battle for Banaras about the underbelly of Indian politics and The Clan, which won the Silver Lion award at the 2015 Venice Film Festival.

Where to go

Once again, DIFF will host free public screenings every night at JBR’s The Beach development, including the world premiere of El Clásico, a film focusing on two brothers who take a road trip from Kurdistan to Spain to meet their hero Cristiano Ronaldo. 

The Beach will also host a special screening of Steven Spielberg’s classic Jaws, celebrates the film’s 40th anniversary, with star of the film Richard Dreyfuss there in person.

Hollywood’s big name movies, including the opening and closing nights, will be held at the Madinat Theatre, but the bulk of the showings will be at VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates, with eight of the new screens dedicated to DIFF. 

DIFF runs from December 9-16. Visit to see the full schedule and purchase tickets tickets.