Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media and the Doha Film Institute have dissolved the $100 million revolving film fund they had jointly announced during the 2013 Berlin Film Festival when they said it would spawn 12-16 English-language feature films over a five period. It did not generate a single pic.
The Los Angeles-based company dedicated to socially relevant films and docus and the Qatari entity established to foster filmmaking in the gas-rich peninsula decided amicably not move forward with the financing partnership due to changing priorities, possibly on both sides.
The DFI’s priorities have changed since that deal was inked under different DFI management.
During Ajyal the DFI announced the launch of its new Qumra event which will focus on fostering first and second works from around the world and also of a dedicated Qatari film fund.
“We’ve mutually decided to dissolve the partnership with Participant,” DFI current CEO Fatma Al Remaihi said, speaking in Doha during the recent Ajyal Youth Film Festival. Participant Media confirmed the deal is no longer in place.
“They are a great company that has great vision, but I think we’ve decided together that we’re in a time and place that for us we’ve been focussing on regional filmmakers and regional projects, so together we’ve decided to dissolve the partnership.”
The partnership was dissolved before selecting any films.
Al Remaihi pointed out she looks forward to possibly teaming up with Participant and other companies on single projects like animation pic “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet,” which they collaborated on outside the now ended partnership. “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet” had its Middle East preem during Ajyal with producer Salma Hayek prancing down the red carpet and a delegation including Emirati animator Mohammed Saeed Harib, who contributed a segment. “For me that film ticks off all the boxes,” she noted. “Gibran’s The Prophet” is expected to get a U.S. release next year, though the distributor has yet to be announced.
Prior to teaming up with the DFI under the now dissolved deal, Participant Media had been partners for three years with Abu Dhabi-based Image Nation with whom they are still collaborating on individual projects such as the upcoming documentary about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani student activist who survived a Taliban assassination attempt. That docu is being helmed by “Waiting for Superman” director Davis Guggenheim.
Similarly, “from now on for us it’s going to be on a project-by-project basis,” the DFI exec said. Hopefully we will find more projects like “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet” that we can be really really proud of bringing back to Doha and showing our audiences. Our door is never closed,” she added.