DOHA – The Doha Film Institute has launched a dedicated Qatari Film Fund, marking a small but significant step forward by the small gas-rich Gulf state in its efforts to foster a local film industry.

The Qatari Film Fund will develop up to four feature films and also develop and produce up to eight short films per year. At least one of the four feature films in development will be selected the following year for production support through mentoring and financing, with plans for the first feature to be selected in 2016 and then go into production.

Feature film treatments and screenplays in various stages will be eligible for development funds up to QAR 182,500 ($50,000) and get mentoring opportunities provided by the Doha Film Institute.

Shorts will be eligible for a combined development and production budget of up to QAR 182,500 ($50,000). The DFI will work closely with those who make the cut through all production stages.

Established in 2010, the DFI has had its ups and downs in film financing, backing costly misfires by non-Arab directors, including Jean Jacques Annaud’s “Black Gold,” and drawing some criticism it did not focus enough on breeding local talents.

However its grants program has long been crucial to fostering fresh Arabic filmmaking, including directors from Qatar, though they also support some works from outside the region.

A DFI grant is currently supporting Qatar’s first web series, titled the “Dr Hamood Show,” produced by Qatar’s Innovation Films, featuring satirical segments on social issues common to Qatari youth and the Arab world.

The Qatari Film Fund will now provide a new dedicated avenue of support to the country’s budding directors. Significantly, the fund was announced during the second Ajyal Youth Film Festival in Doha just as more than 20 shorts directed by Qataris and local residents who call Qatar home screened in the event’s core “Made in Qatar” section. Pictured above is a still from Ali Ansari’s “Qarar,” about a young couple trying to survive an epidemic that has turned people into zombies.

“The Qatari Film Fund marks a new phase of support for Qatari filmmakers,” enthused Fatma Al Remaihi, acting Chief Executive Officer of the Doha Film Institute and Director of the Ajyal Youth fest, as she announced the fund.