Argentinian first-time helmer Benjamin Naishtat’s drama “History of Fear,” which world preemed Sunday in the Berlin competish, is among twenty recipients of the Doha Film Institute’s new first global grants program.

The DFI’s new film fund, first announced last year in Cannes, supports first and second time directors from around the world. Doha’s previous fund was open only to works from the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region.

Twenty projects have now been selected from 24 countries to receive DFI coin for development, production, and post.

They include projects by emerging directors from Argentina, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Uruguay alongside nine projects from MENA countries including Algeria, Iraqi Kurdistan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia. 

In total, the grants will support 12 narrative films, including two shorts (one fiction and one experimental), seven feature documentaries, and one experimental docu.

While DFI funding has been expanded to include global filmmakers, emphasis remains on supporting filmmakers from the MENA region. Certain categories of funding are reserved exclusively for MENA filmmakers.

DFI head of grants Khalil Benkirane in a statement praised “History of Fear,” as being “an innovative project from an exciting new voice in world cinema” and a prime example of the type of cinema the DFI grants seek to support. Pic is about social class tensions in the suburbs of Buenos Aires.

There are several other filmmakers at the Berlinale whose work has received DFI coin.

Among them is Kazakh director Emir Baigazin, whose debut feature “Harmony Lessons” won a Berlin Silver Bear last year. He is at the EFM co-production mart with DFI-funded “The Wounded Angel,” comprising four loosely connected tales set in a small town in early 90s Kazakhstan.

Applications for the next DFI grants session will be open between April 1 to 21.

As previously announced, the DFI has scrapped its plan for a 2014 launch of the inaugural edition of its Qumra Doha Film Festival this year, and decided to reschedule to 2015 the fest focussed on first and second-time directors from around the world.