Newest entry in Mideast circuit sets long-term goals

The Doha Tribeca Film Festival arrives with high expectations as the newest entrant to the increasingly congested Arab film festival calendar, and it is the first to transpose an existing U.S. brand onto a Middle Eastern framework.

The partnership inked last November between the Qatar Museums Authority and Tribeca fest co-founders Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff, is the first of its kind in the Middle East. What’s more, fest organizers are hoping Doha Tribeca will become the springboard for the tiny, gas-rich Gulf state’s ambitions to build a local film industry.

The fest is the brainchild of Sheikha Mayassa Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, chair of the Qatar Museums Authority Board of Trustees and daughter of the emir of Qatar, and is being led by exec director Amanda Palmer, head of entertainment at Al-Jazeera English.

Sheikha Mayassa initially worked as an intern in Rosenthal’s office during the Tribeca fest. That experience was the catalyst for seeking out ways in which Tribeca execs could assist her aim to build a film industry in her native Qatar.

“I think there’s something really exciting about this new generation of Arab and Middle East filmmakers,” says Tribeca Enterprises chief creative officer Geoff Gilmore. “They seem to have a better handle on their place between East and West than the older generation.”

Even though the inaugural edition is only running for four days, organizers are working hard to maintain a year-round program of film workshops and educational outreach for locals. Palmer — whose film skein on Al-Jazeera English, “The Fabulous Picture Show,” has already proved a valuable boon for world cinema directors — has been instrumental in drawing in local Qataris to the festival’s aims.


When: Oct. 29-Nov. 1

Where: Doha, Qatar


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