As the Doha Tribeca Film Festival prepares to raise the curtain on its fourth installment, the Doha Film Institute, the film production and educational organization that sponsors the eight-day fest, has shaken up its staff and is sharpening its focus on community and homegrown talent.

Following the surprise exit of DFI executive director Amanda Palmer in July, the institute has reshuffled its leadership positions and tapped Abdulaziz Al-Khater as DFI CEO. Al-Khater’s expertise is in finance; he joins the fest from Al Khalij Commercial Bank after a decade and a half of banking and management roles.

Leadership of DTFF, which Palmer handled in addition to her roles at DFI, remains in flux; Issa Bin Mohammed Al-Mohannadi was appointed DTFF vice chair in the wake of Palmer’s exit, and fest execs look poised to announce another helmer in the run-up to opening night Nov. 17.

The fest’s format is being expanded this year, with 87 films set to unspool in venues across Doha, the coastal desert hub that serves as Qatar’s capital and largest city. Twenty-one of those films will play in the Contemporary World Cinema category, which, coupled with 12 special screenings, will showcase the filmmaking of 30 nations, from those with a strong foothold in the market such as France, Germany, the U.S. and the U.K., as well as newcomers including Kazakhstan, Senegal, Ethiopia and Iceland.

The fest, which was launched in 2009 as a cultural partner of Tribeca Enterprises (which runs Robert De Niro’s annual Tribeca Film Fest in Gotham), aims to promote sustainable filmmaking in Qatar as well as provide a showcase for Arab and international cinema in the Gulf. This year, Al-Khater says, “you’ll see an increased focus on DTFF as a community-minded event with greater local community participation.”

Mira Nair’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” which was funded by DFI, will open the fest in its MENA bow, while the fest’s Made in Qatar series will unspool its largest number of locally made films yet: 19, including 15 world premieres.

“This section and the Arab competition showcases the sheer number of talented filmmakers in the Middle East,” Al-Khater says. “There is a need for us to raise the profile and visibility of our own talent, as they will be our biggest ambassadors, and attract people to the industry. People are inspired by other people achieving success. It’s about looking for and nurturing our local talent.”


“The Reluctant Fundamentalist” kicks off the fest, a MENA bow.

“Silver Linings Playbook” from David O. Russell screens Nov 19 and 23.

Fest pays tribute to Algeria’s cinematic history.

For femmes only, a screening of Iranian pic “No Entry.”

Robert De Niro talks career, Mira Nair the making of her pic among industry panels.

A tribute to late Bollywood multihyphenate Yash Chopra, with his last film “Jab tak hai jaan.”

Classics such as “Cinema Paradiso” unspool on the beach for the public.

DreamWorks Animations’ “Rise of the Guardians” closes the fest.

Doha org commits to region