Ten Documentaries to See at Dubai International Film Festival 2017

There are approximately 20 documentaries in this year's edition of Dubai International Film Festival, categorised as "non-fiction" or "creative documentary".    

These are my top 10 picks and I've included a couple of lines for each one explaining why. Click on each title for more information, synopsis, schedule and ticket details.  

69 Minutes of 86 Days

Director: Egil Håskjold Larsen | PG | Arabic dialogue with English subtitles | 70 min

A story about the global refugee crisis, from the point of view of a small child, with the camera filming one metre above ground level, capturing the story from the point of view of a three year old child named Lean. 

Faces Places / Visages Villages

Director: Agnès Varda, JR | PG | French dialogue with English subtitles | 93 min

Agnès Varda. That is all. 

Last Men in Aleppo

Director: Feras Fayyad | 18+ | Arabic dialogue with English subtitles | 104 min  

I've been hearing great things about this film from Janrary after it won the Grand Jury Prize (World Cinema – Documentary) at Sundance.  I don't suspect this will be an easy film to watch, but it is an important film to see. 

The Man Behind the Microphone

Director: Claire Belhassine | PG | Arabic, English and French dialogue with English subtitles | 98 min  

I am curious about this documentary about Hedi Jouini, dubbed the "Frank Sinatra of Tunisian music". 

Naila and the Uprising

Director: Julia Bacha | PG | Arabic, English, French and Hebrew dialogue with English subtitles | 76 min

About Naila Ayesh and her non-violent mobilization in Palestinian history - the First Intifada in the late 1980s.


Director: Rana Eid | 12+ | Arabic dialogue with English subtitles | 69 min 

An ode to a city (Beirut), memories and loss. 

The Prince of Nothingwood

Director: Sonia Kronlund | 15+ | Dari and French dialogue with English subtitles | 85 min   

About Salim Shaheen, who has made over 100 films in Afghanistan. One for cinephiles. 

Sharp Tools / Alaat Haddah

Director: Nujoom Alghanem | PG |  Arabic and English dialogue with English subtitles | 84 min  

A personal portrait of renowned UAE contemporary artist Hassan Sharif who passed away last year (and there's currently a retrosptective exhibition of his work at Sharjah Art Foundation). He wasn't just an artist, but a writer and critic, he created provocative and conceptual work since the 1970s that was ahead of its time here in the UAE.  

Stories of Passers By

Director: Koutaiba Al-Janabi  | PG | Arabic and Hungarian dialogue with English subtitles | 67 min 

Memories, stories and experiences of thousands of Iraqis who have filled the corners of the earth over the past 40 years.

Taste of Cement

Director: Ziad Khalthoum | 12+ | Arabic dialogue with English subtitles | 85 mins  

Another documentary set in Beirut, but this one is about Syrian construction workers are building skyscrapers, while their own homes in their homeland are being shelled. A look at their restricted and deprived lives as refugees.