Doha Rethinks Its Festival Set Up

Above: Chief Executive Officer at Doha Film Institute, Abdulaziz Al-Khater (L) attends the DFI Networking Event in Cannes

The Doha Film Institute is shifting focus to first- and second-film makers in a reconceived fest structure comprising two separate events, integrated by grants and a year-round film lab.

Fest aims to usher in a new era in its vision for fostering filmmaking in the Gulf and, by extension, the entire Middle East.

Since DFI’s split with Tribeca, it has extended eligibility of its grants to helmers from all over the world and tapped Palestinian director Elia Suleiman as artistic adviser.

The Doha-Tribeca fest in November has been scrapped and will be replaced with the eight-day Qumra Film Festival for first-and-second time helmers, which will unspool in March.

Qumra will host international competitions for feature-length and short films, and provide networking opportunities via an Industry Days mart comprising master classes, workshops, panels and the Doha Projects initiative, which unites DFI grant recipients with producers and key players.

“DFI’s mandate is to develop filmmaking in the Middle East,” said DFI CEO Abdulaziz Al Khater. “To that end, we figured: what is the best way to use the festival to help maintain that goal? Since we are about creating a new generation of filmmakers, let’s make the festival for emerging filmmakers.”

The DFI is also launching the five-day Ajyal Film Festival for the Young in November, which segues from the DFI’s previous initiatives fostering cinematic awareness and education in the local community, especially among kids and families.

Ajyal, headed by Fatma Al Remaihi, will have hundreds of youths as jurors for films divided into age-appropriate sections and feature family-friendly screenings, retros and tributes in a model similar to Italy’s Giffoni Film Festival.

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