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Film Programme

The 13th Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) which ran from 7 - 14 December, 2016 showcased 155 films from 55 countries alongside a diverse industry programme for filmmakers and executives at the Dubai Film Market (DFM), a strong competition and a rich slate of Special Presentations, Red Carpet Galas and exciting community events.

The Festival presented a slate of feature, non-fiction, short films and includes an astonishing 57 world premieres and international premieres, 73 MENA premieres, 12 Middle East premieres and 9 GCC premieres. The films, crafted in more than 44 languages, populate DIFF’s Arab and Emirati competitions, and its out-of-competition segments dedicated to children, the Arab world, Virtual Reality and cinema from around the globe. With 18 Galas and 16 Special Presentations, Q&As and special appearances from a stellar lineup of industry talent a multitude of Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA winning titles as well as promising Arab talent, the 13th edition was nothing short of another sparkling eight-day celebration of the very best in cinema.

Continuing to provide a platform for talent from the region, once again this year a high calibre of contemporary Arab films competed in the Muhr Competition and the impressive slate is testament to the vibrant creativity of Arab independent filmmaking. The DIFF 2016 selection showcased an incredible line-up of contemporary Arab cinema, with 62 biopics, comedies, dramas and love stories from the Arabian Peninsula, Levant and North Africa.

DIFF’s 13th edition delivered audiences with a line-up of the widest and latest choice of Arab and World cinema which was presented in the following sections.

DIFF’s Official Competition


DIFF’s Out-of-Competition Programme

The Muhr Competition for feature fiction and non-fiction; and short films recognises inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking from the Gulf Region and the Arab world.   DIFF’s critically acclaimed out-of-competition sections present cinema from around the world.

Muhr Feature

An exceptional selection of non-fiction and fiction works from the Arab filmmaking world.


Gala Screenings

A choice of exceptional films that have been selected with a Red Carpet Gala Screening at the Festivals main venue, Madinat Jumeriah.

Muhr Short

A heavily contested section of non-fiction and fiction short films which shine the light on newer, emerging Arab talents, many of whom are exhibiting for the first time.


Cinema of the World

The latest and most anticipated cinema from around the world, distilled into an eclectic line-up, boasting submissions from around the world.

Muhr Gulf Short

A diverse and compelling section designed to reflect the vibrancy and dynamism of filmmakers from the Gulf region.


Arabian Nights

An exhibition of compelling films touching on an aspect of modern Arab life with a rich and varied menu of subjects and formats from a line-up of Arab and non-Arab filmmakers. 


Reflecting the vibrancy and dynamism of the UAE’s filmmakers, the Muhr programme celebrates the exciting, new wave of Emirati cinema.


Cinema for Children

The region’s only dedicated section for younger audiences, bringing the best of children’s cinema to the Middle East.

For more information about the Muhr Competition please click here.


DIFFerent REALITY is a brand new section of the programme that will showcase an international selection of virtual reality films spanning fiction, documentary and animation from the world’s most exciting VR creators, giving DIFF audiences the opportunity to experience the latest in virtual reality and immersive storytelling.

Submissions for Muhr Competition open on April 1st, 2017.