DUBAI // Some of the year's most acclaimed films will be showing at the Dubai International Film Festival (Diff) next month as part of its Cinema of the World programme.
Perhaps the most anticipated is 127 Hours, by Danny Boyle, the British director behind Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting. The movie depicts the real life story of Aron Ralston - played by James Franco - a climber who became trapped beneath a boulder in 2003 and had to make a gruesome choice to escape death.
The movie has provoked controversy despite receiving critical acclaim. Some audience members fainted during the more graphic scenes at its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival (Tiff) in September. Mr Ralston is said to have broken into tears at Franco's portrayal of his decision to amputate his own arm to save himself.
But for those who can stomach the gore, the film, which is tipped for an Oscar nomination, could make for a memorable experience. As The Washington Post said in its review: "It's a movie worth seeing, even when it's barely watchable."
Cameron Bailey, the co-director of Tiff, worries the movie's gory reputation could put potential viewers off unnecessarily.
"If you hear the description, it sounds a bit gross, like something most people couldn't watch. But the film doesn't play like that at all. It plays like a character study," he said.
Mr Bailey attributes this to Boyle's storytelling abilities.
"The way Danny Boyle makes movies is very different. 127 hours has the energy of Slumdog Millionaire, it has some of that inspiring narrative of people in difficult circumstance who ultimately triumph. It's really about the triumph of the human spirit."
Mr Bailey said that the movie was received "rapturously" at Tiff. "It got a huge ovation," he said.
Also generating Oscar buzz is the Mexican film, Biutiful, whose star Javier Bardem won Cannes' best actor award for his portrayal of the repentant crimeboss, Uxbal. Bardem rejoins the director of Babel and Amores Perros, Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, for the portrayal of a criminal trying to leave the underworld before he dies of cancer.
Other films in the programme include the Swedish thriller Corridor, about a shy medical student who becomes embroiled in the drama between a girl and her abusive boyfriend and the German-made Suicide Club, the tale of five strangers who want to leap to their deaths from the same rooftop.
Meanwhile, one of France's most famous leading ladies, Isabelle Huppert, teams up with her real-life daughter, Lolita Chammah, in Copacabana. Ms Huppart plays Esmerelda, a woman who cannot seem to act her age and is becoming an embarrassment to her daughter.
Sheila Whitaker, the director of International Programming at Diff, said: "While filmmaking techniques and technology have evolved dramatically, good cinema still has to deliver a powerful narrative, exemplary performances and the ability to touch your heart and set you thinking. The films in Cinema of the World will, I hope, provide just that."
Diff runs from December 12 to 19.