8 films to catch at this year’s Dubai International Film Festival

It’s back around again, and with arguably the strongest lineup they’ve ever assembled. In fact, the 14th Dubai International Film Festival is so strong, it’s probably worth taking 10 days off work, buying a 25-ticket bundle (a mere AED550, people) and spending an incredibly enjoyable time hopping between Madinat Jumeirah and VOX Mall of the Emirates watching the best of world and regional cinema. It is a nigh-on impossible task to sort through the crammed schedule and work out what is worth your time and what isn’t this year, but we’ve given it a go anyway. So here is a list of the films that caught our eye.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Synopsis: Dr Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) is a renowned cardiovascular surgeon married to ophthalmologist Anna (Nicole Kidman). Their suburban existence is interrupted by Martin (Barry Keoghan), a fatherless teen who Steven has covertly taken under his wing, only for his kindness to be repaid in the most disturbing manner.
Critic’s view: “Yorgos Lanthimos has made a tense, heart-wrenching tale with an admirably askance view of humanity that’s a worthy successor to his prior works” – The Atlantic
When: 6pm, Monday, December 11
Where: Souk Madinat Theatre
Category: Cinema of the World

Borg vs Mcenroe
Synopsis: This film charts the epic rivalry between Björn Borg and John McEnroe, two titans in the game of tennis at the peak of their powers as they battle for the Wimbledon crown in 1980. Shia LaBeouf and Stellan Skarsgård star.
Critic’s view: “A sports film with an arthouse sensibility. It benefits greatly from its chosen subject matter – two of the most remarkable characters in sporting history – but only manages to truly get under the skin of one of them” – Empire
When: Saturday, December 9, 2.45pm and Monday, December 11, 3.45pm
Where: Souk Madinat (Saturday) and VOX at MoE (Monday)
Category: Cinema of the World
Mary Shelley
Synopsis: Passionate and rebellious teenager Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin finds a kindred spirit in the radical poet/philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. When the couple lose their baby daughter, Mary finds the courage to transform her pain into the world’s first science fiction novel, Frankenstein – even though she was just 21 years old at the time.
Critic’s view: “In making Mary into a woman in control of her life and choices rather than a victim of cruel and insensitive men, director Haifaa Al Mansour shows how the struggles of her youth swiftly matured her understanding of women’s place in the world” – Hollywood Reporter
When: Friday, December 8, 9.15pm and Saturday, December 9, 6.15pm
Where: VOX MoE
Category: Cinema of the World

Goodbye Christopher Robin
Synopsis: A rare glimpse into the relationship between beloved children’s author AA Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) and his son Christopher Robin (Will Tilston), whose toys inspired the magical world of Winnie-the-Pooh. But with the eyes of the world on Christopher Robin, what will the cost be to the family?
Critic’s view: “Drenched in dappled light and a honeyed score, Simon Curtis’s glowing picture dangles the story of how the author AA Milne created Winnie-the-Pooh” – The New York Times
When: Friday, December 8, 6.45pm
Where: Souk Madinat Theatre
Category: Cinema of the World

Synopsis: Abu Shadi is a divorced father in Nazareth confronting having to live alone as his daughter’s wedding nears. Shadi, his architect son, arrives from Rome to help deliver the wedding invitations. As the duo spend the day together, their tense relationship comes to a head as their different lives collide.
Critic’s view: “While political conflicts may be beyond repair, the film seems to say that fissures between parent and child can be mended through the word, and the word alone” – Slant Magazine
When: Sunday, December 10, 10.15pm and Tuesday, December 12, 3.15pm
Where: Souk Madinat Theatre (Sunday) and VOX MoE (Tuesday)
Category: Muhr Features

Synopsis: Four souls in Casablanca, a vibrant, harsh and polluted city, are in pursuit of the truth: Hakim lives in the conservative medina and dreams of being a rock star. Salima struggles to free herself from a society that wants to define her. Joe, a restaurateur, chooses to live in the Casablanca of his dreams. Inès is torn between tradition and modernity as she desires freedom.
Critic’s view: “This ambitious, beautifully modulated film posits that dreaming of better horizons or the triumph of love is all well and good, but few are strong enough or lucky enough to steer their own destiny against harsh social odds” – Screen Daily
When: Saturday, December 9, 9.15pm and Monday, December 11, 3pm
Where: VOX MoE
Category: Muhr Features

Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken
Synopsis: Morgan Spurlock reignites his battle with the food industry by opening his own fast food chicken restaurant. We see his journey from raising his first chickens to working behind the counter when the store opens, all to uncover the truths and lies behind the multibillion-dollar industry known as “Big Chicken”.
Critic’s view: “Provocative but never pandering, Spurlock remains perfectly suited for our self-absorbed times” – IndieWire
When: Saturday, December 9, 6.45pm and Monday, December 11, 6.15pm
Where: Souk Madinat Theatre (Saturday) and VOX MoE (Monday)
Category: Cinema of the World

Last Men In Aleppo
Synopsis: After five years of war, the remaining citizens of Aleppo are readying themselves to come under siege. Through the volunteers from The White Helmets, the film tells a personal story about their daily lives, death and their struggle to keep the streets safe as a place to live in. They fight for sanity, where war has become the norm. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize (World Cinema – Documentary) at Sundance.
Critic’s view: “You should – you must – see Last Men in Aleppo to witness an ongoing tragedy. But you should also see it to learn humility” – Vulture
When: Friday, December 8, 9.30pm and Sunday, December 10, 3.15pm
Where: VOX MoE
Category: Muhr Features

Dubai International Film Festival
When: 6-13 December
Where: Various locations across the city
Price: From AED35

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