Dubai’s film scene has grown tremendously in recent years. The city has become a regular set for major blockbuster productions, the annual host of an international film festival, and the birthplace of regional indie-film culture.
Dubai International Film Festival
With the discontinuation of the ADFF, Dubai International Film Festival now reigns as the premiere film festival in the Middle East. Named one of the top 15 film festivals in the world, Dubai showcases top features, documentaries, and short films from over 60 countries and hosts The Dubai Film Market (DFM) for thousands of industry representatives and film professionals. The Festival also promotes the growth of Arab cinema through competitions and promotional campaigns. This year it will take place between December 7 and 14 at Madinat Jumeirah.
The City as a Set
In the past few years, leading studios from Hollywood (and Bollywood) have set their sights on Dubai. Major titles such as Syriana, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens, Star Trek Beyond starring top stars have been shot on location here, making Dubai one of the trendiest locations in cinema these days.
Indie-Film in Dubai
Founded in 2007, The Scene Club “hosts 24 unique titles and 12 private food and film events all around the city, all year long.” With members of all ages and backgrounds, it is the largest film club in the region. It screens a diverse range of independent films, while aiming to transform cinema culture in the UAE.
The Moving Images project, “a partnership between Dubai International Film Festival, Sharjah Art Foundation and Art Dubai,” focuses specifically on Middle Eastern film and filmmakers. The project hosts screenings, discussions, and workshops related to current projects, artists, and policies in the MENA region.
Cinema Akil is an independent cinema located on Alserkal Avenue in Dubai’s art district. The Cinema screens a wide variety of international films and has launched a number of successful, short term pop-up programs throughout the city in partnership with other creative outposts and events. Cinema Akil also hosts fundraiser events and ongoing themed series.