Five must-see movies at Dubai International Film Festival

And their brilliant trailers – to save you heading for Google


It's December...which means we're excited about two things: Christmas and Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF). OK, there may be some other exciting things too, but we're pretty happy about seeing some amazing films. The 12th edition of the festival runs from 9 to 16 December 2015 and will be showing films in venues including Madinat Jumeirah, MOE and free films on the beach. There will also be hosted talks with A-list actors like Jake Gyllenhaal and red carpet events with the likes of Dev Patel and Eva Longoria. 

Can't decide what to watch? Here's our top five choices...


DIFF opens on 9 December with Lenny Abrahamson’s 'Room' – based on Emma Donoghue’s 2010 gripping novel of the same name. It tells the story of a mother, played by Brie Larson, and her young son Jack, who have been held in captivity in a tiny room for five years before they manage to escape into the world beyond their four walls. They have to learn to adjust to a strange, terrifying and wondrous life outside their prison.


Maggie Smith leaves behind her role as Dowager Countess of Grantham in 'Downton Abbey' to play Miss Shepherd, a fiercely unlikeable homeless woman who parks her campervan in a leafy London street for 15-years. The film is based on the real-life events that happened to writer Alan Bennett. Maggie Smith has played the character twice before, in a radio 4 adaption and on stage in the West End. 'Lady in the Van' is a film with thrilling elements, traumatic happenings, a twist of British comedy, and elements of slapstick.


Based on Michael Lewis’ best-selling novel, 'The Big Short' revisits the 2008 financial crisis that started in Wall Street. Jam-packed with a star-studded cast including Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale and Steve Carrell, it's a darker version of 'The Wolf of Wall Street', which sees the characters  actually profiting from the crisis. Serious though the subject matter is, the film is pitched towards dark comedy.


Sean McAllister directs this documentary. The story starts in 2009 when McAllister meets Amer and his children as they are waiting for his wife to be released from prison. When McAllister himself is arrested and footage of the family is confiscated, the family has no option but to flee to Lebanon overnight. McAllister follows their story over the next five turbulent years as the family comes to terms with their status as refugees. This intimate portrait helps us understand what an ordinary family goes through when they have to leave their life behind due to conflict.


Sebastian Schipper directs a bold heist thriller shot in real time, in a single take on the streets of Berlin. It was filmed in a single mobile shot lasting over two hours and with a script that consisted of just twelve pages (most of the dialogue was improvised). With or without the single-shot experiment, the plot holds its own by following a young Spanish woman who has newly moved to Berlin, she finds her flirtation with a local guy turn potentially deadly, as their night out with his friends reveals a dangerous secret.

David Hammond is a film enthusiast and the founder of Dubai-based art platform Drawdeck 

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