I am super excited about the ninth edition of the Dubai International Film Festival that rolls out its red carpet today. The festival has an outstanding line-up of 158 movies from 61 countries with interesting works from as far as Angola. This year, DIFF will play host to Oscar winning stars like Colin Firth and Cate Blanchett (she’ll be heading the jury for an award at the festival). Here’s a guide to all the movies worth watching at this year’s edition!
I love that DIFF 2012 opens tonight with Life of Pi (an epic adaptation of one of my favorite books ever by Yann Martel) which, with the help of remarkable 3D, narrates the splendid tale of a young boy’s adventurous voyage at sea.
The movie, which is shot in India, Canada and Taiwan is an ideal pick for a festival that wants to bring different cultures together. I am super excited that Suraj Sharma, who plays Pi in the movie will be walking the red carpet at the gala opening along with the other stars of the movie which makes it totally worth the wait.
Word on the street is that other Hollywood celebrities may be in town for this year’s edition (Tom Cruise walked the DIFF red carpet last year). I’m excited to spot the likes of Frieda Pinto, Rooney Mara, Kristen Davis and Cuba Gooding Jr. But, more importantly, there are spectacular movies which make it to my must-see list.
Among the hottest movies from this region is Half- Emirati, a short film about UAE residents, and Wadjda directed by Haifaa Al Mansour (Saudi Arabia’s first female director) which is an astonishing depiction of a ten year old girl who questions the restrictions of her culture. Among the most popular movies playing this year is Hyde Park On Hudson, a British comic drama which has legendary actor Bill Murray essaying the role of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Then there’s another international masterpiece in the form of Rust and Bone (De Rouille Et D’Os in French), which is the compelling love story of a young father played by Belgian actor, Matthias Schoenaerts and a killer-whale trainer played by Oscar winning beauty, Marion Cottilard.
Oh, and I am loving the previews of Hitchcock, which tells the legendary filmmaker’s love story during the making of Psycho with a dream cast that includes Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirrin and Scarlett Johansson.
I am also thrilled about the incredible Indian movies that made the cut at this year’s DIFF. There’s Gattu, which is the adorable tale of a young boy with a kite obsession, Shahid which is set against the backdrop of the 1993 communal riots in Mumbai, and Valley of Saints, a Kashmiri flick by Musa Syed about best friends who fall for the same woman.
For those with a love of good cinema, there’s also O Grande Kilapy (Kilapy is an Angolan word for swindle) which is the story of a brave man who pulls off a massive swindle on colonial oppressors, along with other intriguing works like Amour and Cloud Atlas.
Another major highlight is a bunch of brilliant documentaries that will be showcased this year. I really want to watch Shut Up and Play The Hits, which follows LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy from the night of the band’s final gig to the day after the show.
And, you can’t beat Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, an endearing story about a young Fllipino who posts clips on YouTube and ends up becoming the lead singer of American rock outfit, Journey. So inspiring!
My other favorite is one of the top documentaries this year. I totally dig the idea behind Mary Kerr‘s Radioman, a heart-wrenching tale of a homeless New Yorker who hangs out around movie locations and ends up with parts in over hundred movies including big ones like The Departed and Ransom.
Wow, real life sure makes more intriguing cinema that anything else. This year’s DIFF looks like one thrilling ride and I’m glad I have my ticket!