Festival director NeilStephenson has unveiled the programme for this year's Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) (Dec 6-11).

A total of 76 films, whichinclude 52 main features, will play at the festival, including current works byDanny Boyle, Walter Salles, Michael Winterbottom, Zhang Yimou and RobertZemeckis, hits from the international circuit including Les Choristes and Comme UneImage from France and a collection of debate based titles including The Hamburg Cell, Control Room, Locarno winner Privateand Simone Bitton's Wall.

Arab cinema, one of thefestival's main showpieces, is represented by 15 features, including the worldpremiere of Nacer Khemir's Bab'azizfrom Tunisia and 16 Arab short films.

The festival will presentfive red carpet "Dubai GalaScreenings" at the festival's home and epicenter, Dubai's new resortMadinat Jumeirah.

According to a Dubaifestival statement, the programme "has been designed to reflect Dubai'scosmopolitan, tolerant and multi-cultural character" and has a theme "ofbuilding cultural bridges through tolerance and intercultural dialogue".

The Opening Gala willfeature Moroccan director Ismaël Ferroukhi's Le Grand Voyage. SouthAfrican set thriller Red Dust, by British director Tom Hooper, has beenselected as the Closing Night film and will be screened in the presence ofArchbishop Tutu. Producer Anant Singhand Red Dust stars Chiwetel Ejioforand Jamie Bartlett will be attending.

Omar Sharif will be honouredwith a special retrospective highlighting his importance as an Arab icon. Theretrospective will include classics such as LawrenceOf Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Funny Girl as well as the more recent Monsieur Ibrahim.

In addition to the Openingand Closing events, the three other galas will include: Indian-born Canadiandirector Deepa Mehta's Bollywood/Hollywoodas part of the "Bollywood MeetsHollywood" section. Mehta andactors Rahul Khanna and Lisa Ray will be attending; Japanese director TakashiShimizu's international horror hit TheGrudge as part of the "Hi-TechHollywood" section with star Sarah Michelle Gellar scheduled to attend; andMarc Forster's Finding Neverland aspart of "Contemporary World Cinema"with Miramax's Harvey Weinstein expected to attend.

Directors Daoud Abdel Sayedand Subhash Ghai will also be honoured as part of the "Directors in the Spotlight" section.