You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ to Launch From Dubai Film Fest Into Middle East

Dubai is the only fest where 'Rogue One' will screen

ROME – “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” will launch in the Middle East on the strength of closing out the upcoming Dubai Film Festival, which will also fete the actor Samuel L. Jackson and feature the international premiere of John Madden’s political thriller “Miss Sloane” as its opener.

The Dec. 7-14 festival, the world’s top Arabic cinema showcase, has a robust Hollywood component as well this year.

“Rogue One” will be screened in Dubai one day ahead of its Dec. 15 theatrical release in the UAE, marking the hotly anticipated film’s only festival outing. The Lucasfilm/Disney juggernaut goes out in U.S. theaters on Dec. 16.

Besides Jackson, who will make the trek to receive a lifetime achievement award and hold an onstage conversation, Dubai has also recruited Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs for an “In Conversation” event. Oscar-winning British director Asif Kapadia (“Amy”) is also scheduled to give a talk, as is Irish helmer Lenny Abrahamson, who was Oscar-nominated for “Room.”

U.S. movies in the lineup include “La La Land,” “Nocturnal Animals,” “Manchester by the Sea,” and Will Smith-starrer “Collateral Beauty.”

In line with the current trend of showing high-profile TV miniseries at festivals, an episode of HBO’s “Westworld” will screen, followed by a conversation with two of the show’s stars, Jeffrey Wright and Luke Hemsworth.

Dubai’s core Arabian Nights section, featuring works by Arab and non-Arab directors that depict the Arab world, focuses on women this year, according to its programmer, Delphine Garde-Mroueh. Several of the titles portray Arab women from fresh angles, including French director Henri Barges’ dark comedy “Nuts,” about two bored upper-crust Beirut housewives who become addicted to gambling and descend into the city’s sex, drugs, and gaming underbelly. In Lebanese director Sophie Boutros’ “Solitaire,” another dark comedy, the protagonist is haunted by the memory of her brother, who was killed by a Syrian bomb in Lebanon’s civil war, just as she is being pursued by a Syrian suitor for an arranged marriage.

Islamic terrorism is present in Dutch director Mijke De Jong’s timely “Layla M,” about the radicalization of a young Muslim woman from a Moroccan family in Amsterdam who moves to Syria to fight with Isis, only to realize she has no place in a new world dominated by men. The movie received positive notices in Toronto, but it will be interesting to see how it plays with Arab audiences.

As is customary, Dubai has a significant Bollywood component, including the world premiere of Paris-set Hindi romancer “Befikre,” directed by Aditya Chopra. Production company Yash Raj Films is touting it as a “progressive” Indian take on modern love. Dubai fest Chairman Abdulhamid Juma has predicted that the racy pic will appeal not just to Dubai’s large Indian expat community “but also to Arabs who have a strong affinity for Bollywood films.”

Riding the current virtual-reality craze, Dubai is launching an entire dedicated section this year called DIFFerent Reality in a specially equipped state-of-the-art venue where 10 VR films will screen. They including the world premiere of “Lake Baikal: The Science and Spirituality of Extreme Water,” a Russian-U.S. collaboration co-directed by Georgy Molodtsov and Michael Owen.

Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux will come to the Dubai fest for the first time to present “Lumière! Inventing Cinema,” a compilation of restored movies made by cinema pioneers Auguste and Louis Lumière between 1895 and 1905. Besides running the Cannes fest, Fremaux also heads the Institut Lumière in Lyon, which is dedicated to the work of the Lumière brothers and to preserving the world’s film heritage.


Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Jason Lei Howden, Samara Weaving and

    Daniel Radcliffe On Acting With Weapons Nailed To Your Hands

    How did “Guns Akimbo” director and writer Jason Lei Howden convince Daniel Radcliffe to play a character with guns nailed to his hands? Easy, he sent him the script. Radcliffe joined Howden and “Ready or Not’s” breakout star Samara Weaving in the Variety’s Toronto Film Festival studio, presented by AT&T to talk the limits of [...]

  • Box Office: It Chapter Two Maintains

    Box Office: 'It: Chapter Two' Continues International Reign With $47 Million

    Pennywise’s reign of terror hasn’t wavered: Warner Bros.’ “It Chapter Two” maintained first place on box office charts, led by another strong showing overseas. The sequel, based on Stephen King’s horror novel, generated another $47 million at the international box office for a foreign tally of $169 million. After two weeks of release, “It Chapter [...]

  • First still from the set of

    Taika Waititi’s 'Jojo Rabbit' Wins Top Prize at Toronto Film Festival Awards

    Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” has won the coveted People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The honor positions the film for a potential Oscar run and bolsters its awards chances. That’s good news for Fox Searchlight, which must have been disappointed by the lackluster critical reception for the movie, a dark comedy [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Box Office: 'Hustlers' Racks Up Solid $33 Million Debut, 'Goldfinch' Bombs

    “Hustlers” rolled in the Benjamins this weekend, collecting $33.2 million when it debuted in 3,250 North American theaters. Boosted by rave reviews and stellar word of mouth, “Hustlers” beat expectations and now ranks as the best start for an STX film, along with the biggest live-action opening weekend for stars Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu. [...]

  • German Cinema Is Diverse, But Is

    German Cinema Is Varied, But Is It Too Risk Averse?

    One of the strengths of German cinema is its diversity, says Simone Baumann, managing director of the national film promotion agency German Films. As well as the three films at Toronto directed by female German helmers, there was also German filmmaker Thomas Heise’s documentary film essay “Heimat Is a Space in Time.” Then there were [...]

  • Female Filmmakers in Germany Make Progress

    Female Filmmakers Surge Forward in Germany, But Still Face Obstacles

    Four feature films by German filmmakers screened at the Toronto Film Festival, and three of them were directed by women – Angela Schanelec’s “I Was at Home, But…,” winner of the Berlinale’s best director prize, Ina Weisse’s “The Audition,” and Katrin Gebbe’s “Pelican Blood,” the latter two both starring Nina Hoss. Germany’s Oscar entry this [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content