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57 films will make up the category at the 12th Festival, marking the region’s most diverse cinematic experience

This year’s most anticipated films from across the globe will take centre stage in the ‘Cinema of the World’ segment of the 12th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF). Featuring an array of the brightest directors and filmmakers to grace the big screen, the programme is a culmination of 57 breath-taking features from across the globe and is set to enthral fans from December 9 – 16.

Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase will showcase her heart-warming film ’AN’. Set in the life of a pancake stall manager, the story unfolds as an odd but sympathetic elderly lady looking for work comes to him for a job. With one taste of her home-made bean paste the manager at the stall hires her and soon the pair builds a relationship that is about much more than simple street food.

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Illustrious director Santiago Mitre is welcomed to DIFF with his multi-award winning film, ‘Paulina’. Set in Argentina, ‘Paulina’ is a social thriller that explores judicial ideologies surrounding violence and gang culture in the country. The film follows its protagonist, Paulina, as she abandons her career as a successful lawyer to become a social activist in a poverty stricken area. One day, Paulina is brutally attacked by a gang, challenging her resolve and her will to uphold her convictions.

Iranian director Amir-Hossein Saghafi introduces his third feature, ‘The Man Who Became a Horse’. A father living with his only daughter attempts to keep her close at all costs after her mother passes away. A single white horse is kept in memory of her mother. The daughter dearly loves the horse, but is forced to say a painful goodbye when she must leave her father and their home after she is wed. Unwilling to let his daughter leave, the father goes to extreme lengths to see that she remains by his side in this visually stunning tale that will leave audiences guessing.

Representing Scandinavian cinema in all its glory, Grimur Hakonarson’s ‘Rams’ is the Icelandic filmmaker’s most recent feature, and having already won eight awards in 2015, the film will be sure to receive high acclaim from audiences at DIFF. Set in a remote Icelandic farming valley, the feature follows two brothers who haven’t spoken in 40 years. When the outbreak of a disease threatens their way of life, they are forced to come together and resolve their differences to save their livelihood: their flock of sheep.

Globally respected and award-winning writer and director, Terence Davies presents his latest work, ‘Sunset Song’, a deeply emotional film adaption of the Lewis Grassic Gibbon novel of the same name. Set in the harsh and beautiful Scottish heartland, the film is a tale of ephemeral joys and the inescapable struggles in life.  ‘Sunset Song’ is driven by a young farmer’s daughter, Chris, as she dreams of a life outside of her homeland. Swept away by the local farmer, Ewan, Chris’ dreams and intense passion for life, her husband and the unforgiving land are pushed to their limits as World War I takes its toll on her community.

French writer, scenarist, actor and director, Samuel Benchetrit joins the line-up with his latest directorial piece, ‘Macadam Stories’. A compelling tale of six chance encounters, the feature catches a glimpse of moments of compassion shared between a disabled old man and a night nurse; a troubled actress and a latchkey teen; and an American astronaut and a doting mother as shared moments reveal the essential humanity in everyone.

Winner of two awards at the prestigious Locarno International Film Festival 2015, Indian director Raam Reddy presents his feature film ‘Thithi’. A realistic comedy about three generations of sons living in a village in South India, ‘Thithi’ depicts the clans’ reactions and goings-on after the death of its eldest member, Century Gowda. Following Century Gowda’s “thithi” – the final funeral celebration 11 days after death – three stories materialise and the audience play witness as each of the sons pursue their own ventures in wake of their father, grandfather, and great-grandfather’s death.

Acclaimed Sri Lankan filmmaker Vimukthi Jayasundara, award-winning director of ‘The Forsaken Land’, adds his spiritual tale of life and death, ‘Dark in The White Light’ to the Festival’s programme. Journeying through the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, ‘Dark in The White Light’ follows a young Buddhist monk as he embarks on a quest for spiritual truth. Meanwhile, an organ dealer grows his business in a climate of general indifference and Colombo’s humidity. A surgeon, accompanied by a servant, who functions as his driver, heals by day, and rapes women by night. In the form of a philosophical tale, the film interweaves various stories of fraying bodies, on the threshold of pain, between life and death.

Esteemed Indian director, Rinku Kalsy joins the line-up with her compelling biopic, ‘For The Love of a Man’ about the adored Tamil actor, Rajnikanth. Blurring the lines between real-life and cinema, Kalsy perfectly captures the frenzied love of Rajnikanth’s fans. ‘For The Love of a Man’ demonstrates how fandom is about more than cinema; it is about togetherness and identity, portrayed through a star who provides fans with tangible reassurance through his on-screen immortality.

Bosnian director, Ines Tanović is also set to showcase ‘Our Everyday Life’ which gives insight into the life of a very traditional Bosnian family. The Susic family lives a typical everyday life and all is great in the world for the family of four until, slowly but surely, their life begins to fall apart. As their problems grow they begin to appreciate what really matters in life: family.

New to DIFF is Indian director Anu Menon, best known for her short film ‘Ravi Goes to School’ and her previous feature ‘London Paris New York’. Coming to the big screen at DIFF, Anu Menon’s latest feature ‘Waiting’ is a story about a retired professor and a terrified young wife whose partners have fallen into a coma. By chance the two meet and in their time of grief they must support each other if they are to stop themselves falling apart.

After a three-year absence from the filmmaking industry, Jayro Bustamante makes his triumphant return to cinema with his seven-time-award-winning feature ‘Ixcanul Volcano’. Set in a coffee plantation on the foothills of an active volcano in Guatemala, the film is centred around Maria, a young 17-year-old Mayan girl whose future lies before her in the form of an arranged marriage despite her dreams of going to “the big city”. However, that all changes when she is bitten by a snake and she is forced to venture out into the modern world to cure the bite. Maria’s life is saved but at what cost?

Nashen Moodley, Director of the Cinema of The World programme, commented on the importance of representing the industry on an international scale: “The diversity of the Cinema of The World programme is a fascinating range of remarkable films from some of international cinema’s finest filmmakers and acting talent who continue to excite us with bold and exhilarating stories.”

Masoud Amralla Al Ali, DIFF’s Director, praised the Cinema of The World programme and the acclaim it has come to receive since its inception: “Year-on-year the Cinema of The World programme welcomes a plethora of talent from across the globe in what is one of the most diversified displays of cinema. Bringing international cinema to the region’s doorstep provides fans with an eclectic mix of films to broaden cultural horizons and understanding, and in turn DIFF thrives from the exponential interest in the programme.”

With some of this year’s best films now confirmed for the line-up, film fans will not want to miss the 12th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival. The DIFF box office opens on Friday, November 27 at www.diff.ae. Additional information is also available through the Festival’s dedicated customer care number, 363 FILM (3456).


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