A.R. Rahman is to be honoured with a lifetime achievement award; DIFF to shine the spotlight on German films.

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has announced the line up for the 8th edition of the festival, which will feature 171 films from 56 nations across features, short films, and documentaries. The festival will run December 7-14.

DIFF 2011 gala films include Bollywood romantic comedy Ladies vs Ricky Bahl, Alexander Payne’s The Descendants; Disney’s The Muppets, Emanuele Crialese’s Italian immigrant drama Terraferma and Simon Curtis’ My Week With Marilyn.

Tom Cruise is expected to attend the world premiere of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which is opening the festival, alongside director Brad Bird. Other stars expected to be in attendance will be Simon Pegg, Anil Kapoor and Alexander Payne.

89 films will compete for prizes totaling more than $600,000 in DIFF’s Muhr Awards which is made up of three different categories, Muhr Emirati, Muhr Arab and Muhr AsiaAfrica.

There will be a special focus on Germany with six German films being featured as part of the segment including Christian Zubert’s Three Quarter Moon (Dreiviertelmond), which will open the programme.Other films to be shown are Verena S. Freytag’s Burnout (Abgebrannt), David Wnendt’s Combat Girl (Kriegerin), Robert Thalheim’s Westwind, Georg Wilhelm Pabst’s 1929 film Pandora’s Box (Die Büchse der Pandora), and Ulrike Ottinger’s Under Snow.

Germany film industry makers will also be introduced to their counterparts in the Arab world as part of the showcase. The festival has previously shone the spotlight on Italy, France and Mexico.

DIFF will award Oscar winning Indian music composer A. R. Rahman, who wrote the score for Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours, with a Lifetime Achievement award for his work in Indian and International film.