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Doha Film Institute ramps up co-productions

It signs up for 'Honor,' 'Where'

The Doha Film Institute has boarded two Arabic pics, Jean-Claude Codsi’s “A Man of Honor,” which it will co-produce and Nadine Labaki’s sophomore feature “Where Do We Go Now,” which it is supporting with Quinta Communications, which will co-produce the pic via its Italian subsid Prima TV.

“Honor,” set in Lebanon and Jordan, stars Majdi Machmouchi and Caroline Hatem and follows the tale of a man who has a chance encounter with a mysterious woman he knew 20 years ago.

Labaki, whose first effort, “Caramel,” was an international hit, stars in “Where Do We Go Now?” with Leila Hakim, Antoinette Noufaily and Yvonne Maalouf.

Story is about a group of women whose ingenuity is tested by a series of chaotic incidents as they stave off the fallout from a distant war.

This isn’t the first time the DFI has co-produced local fare: In October, it signed on for Jean-Jacques Annaud’s $55 million Arab epic “Black Gold,” alongside Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications. Pic is lensing in Qatar.

“We want to promote local film and we’ve found that you can only be an active participant if you’re a co-producer,” DFI exec director Amanda Palmer told Variety. “Part of our whole co-production initiative is to build local talent, and that has to come from within. We want to be a player in these films we believe in.”

She added that serving as a co-producer facilitates the goal of getting the pics on the festival circuit and to “build a platform for getting the films seen around the Middle East.”

While the DFI did not reveal how much money it has invested, Palmer said the plan was to provide financial support for 10 pics a year.

It has already backed four completed pics: Ibrahim El Batout’s “Hawi,” Sameh Zoabi’s “Man Without a Cellphone,” Mahmoud Kaabour’s doc “Grandma, a Thousand Times” and Ghassan Salhab’s “The Mountain.”

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