The Doha Film Institute has announced its expanded latest round of grantees comprising 25 projects. Twenty-three are by first and second-time filmmakers from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and around the world, while two are from more established names.

The veterans tapping into DFI support are Palestinian director Mai Masri, whose drama “3000 Nights,” (pictured), about a newlywed Palestinian schoolteacher who gives birth to her son in an Israeli prison, is in post. Also in post is Algerian director Merzak Allouache’s “Madame Courage,” about an unstable and lonely teenager living in a slum in the suburbs of Mostaganem, in Algeria.

Two former DFI grantees, Spanish/Lebanese filmmaker Leila Hotait Salas (“Crayons of Askalan”) and Tunisia’s Nejib Belkadhi (“Bastardo”), are also returning with new projects. Hotait Salas’ new feature “Stolen Skies” is set against the demonstrations in Cairo in 2011, while Belkadhi’s new pic “Retina” is about a Tunisian immigrant forced to return to his country to take care of his autistic son.

In an interview DFI CEO Fatma Al Remain proudly noted the great feedback received for the DFI’s recent new concept event called Qumra, which blends creative workshop and festival elements and mixes master classes with industry networking sessions and screenings.

DFI grants manager Khalil Benkirane noted that “we also had Qumra in mind in making our grants selection.”

“We needed to select some projects in development and post-production that in addition from financial support could also benefit from everything they can get from Qumra,” he said.

Represented MENA countries include Algeria, Libya, Lebanon, Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Qatar, Syria, Tunisia and UAE.

Projects selected for grants for the DFI’s Qatari film fund will be announced after Cannes.

The DFI has also announced that the third edition of its Ajyal Youth Film Festival will be held from November 29 to December 5, 2015, running one day longer than before.

DFI-supported film screening in Cannes this year comprise “Dégradé,” by Palestinian twins Tarzan and Arab Abunasser, and “Mediterranea” by Italy’s Jonas Carpignano, both screening in Critics’ Week. Also “Lamb,” by Ethiopian director Yared Zeleke, in Un Certain Regard, and “Mustang,” by Turkish director Deniz Gamze Ergüven, in Directors’ Fortnight.

The DFI fund is primarily for first and second-time filmmakers but has now also been opened up to pics in post from MENA region filmmakers.

Submissions for the next round of DFI funding will open on July 18.

Below is the full list of Spring 2015 DFI Grantees:


Feature Narrative

Seeking the Man with the Camera by Boutheyna Bouslama (Tunisia, Switzerland, France, Qatar)
An investigative documentary that follows the narrator as she seeks out Seymo, a childhood friend with whom she used to play in the streets of Homs.

Stolen Skies by Laila Hotait Salas (Lebanon, Qatar)
Against the backdrop of the demonstrations in Cairo in 2011, a woman wants to remember the Lebanese lover she had 30 years ago – but first she will need to forgive herself.

Tin Hinan by Muhannad Lamin (Libya, Qatar)
A mythical coming-of-age tale in which a young girl is forced to travel into the Sahara to find a new home, ‘Tin Hinan’ depicts the struggle for identity in the midst of a revolution.


Feature Narrative

1982 by Oualid Mouaness (Lebanon, Qatar)
When 11-year-old Wissam decides to tell a classmate that he loves her, his will is challenged, his courage falters and an impending war threatens to separate them permanently.

Alam, The Flag by Firas Khoury (Palestine, France, Qatar)
Tamer, a young Palestinian high-school student, takes part in the mysterious Operation Flag mission on the eve of Israel’s Independence Day celebrations – a day of mourning for Palestinians.

Paris the White by Lidia Terki (Algeria, France, Qatar)
Aicha, a woman of 70, leaves her village in Algeria for the first time to go to Paris in search of her husband, who has not contacted her in years.
Retina by Nejib Belkadhi (Tunisia, Qatar)
Lotfi, a Tunisian immigrant who lives in France, is forced to return to his homeland to take care of his autistic child.

Sahaab by Khalifa Abdullah Al Muraikhi (Qatar)
When Nasser and his friends are lost in the desert, struggling to retrieve their falcon, their search turns out to be a deadly journey.

Short Narrative

Aya by Moufida Fedhila (Tunisia, France, Qatar)
‘Aya’ is a story about faith in God and in humanity, and of making changes and sacrifices in order to save one’s soul.

The Boss by Rzgar Huseein Ahmed (Iraq, Qatar)
A group of boys decides to select a boss from among themselves. Then the boss becomes the group’s dictator.

One of Them by Fahad Al Kuwari (Qatar)
Khalid finds himself in an enigmatic situation when he suddenly develops immunity to religious advocacy.

Under the Hat by Amal Al-Agroobi (United Arab Emirates, Qatar)
A mosque’s mu’athen loses his voice and looks for a replacement in his neighbour – the young vocalist in a heavy metal band.
Feature Documentary

Batata by Noura Kevorkian (Lebanon, Qatar)
While war rages back home, a family of Syrian potato farmers works the fields in neighbouring Lebanon.

Ghosts Hunting by Raed Andoni (Palestine, France, Qatar)
Director Raed Andoni assembles an eclectic group of Palestinian ex-prisoners to rebuild the Israeli investigation centre in which they were imprisoned – a place they never in fact saw, because they were always blindfolded.

Short Experimental or Essay

The Most Pretty Dudes by Mohammad Dibo (Syria, Qatar)
In Homs, a city destroyed by war, two embattled groups negotiate to ensure their safe escape from the building they are both trapped in.


Feature Narrative

3000 Nights by Mai Masri (Palestine, France, Jordan, Lebanon, UAE, Qatar)
A recently wed Palestinian schoolteacher gives birth in an Israeli prison, where she fights to protect her son, survive and maintain hope.

Apprentice by Junfeng Boo (Singapore, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Qatar)
Aiman, a corrections officer, is transferred to a high-security prison. There, he befriends Rahim, who, it turns out, is chief executioner. Can Aiman overcome his conscience and become Rahim’s apprentice?

Film Kteer Kbeer by Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya (Lebanon, Qatar)
Intending to smuggle the amphetamine Captagon to Iraq in film canisters, a small-time Lebanese drug-dealer transforms himself into a film producer and, with the help of an underrated filmmaker, slyly manipulates public opinion.

Houston, We Have a Problem! by Ziga Virc (Slovenia, Germany, Croatia, Qatar)
In March, 1961, Yugoslavia sold its secret space programme to the USA. Two months later, President Kennedy announced that Americans would travel to the Moon.

Madame Courage by Merzak Allouache (Algeria, France, Qatar)
Omar, an unstable and lonely teenager, lives in a slum in the suburbs of Mostaganem.

Road to La Paz by Francisco Varone (Argentina, The Netherlands, Germany, Qatar)
Sebastián is hired to take Jahlil, a Muslim retiree, on the most important mission of his life. What begins as an inconvenient trip turns out to be a life-changing adventure.

Feature Documentary

Beirut Rooster by Ziad Kalthoum (Syria, Lebanon, Qatar)
While Syrian workers rebuild Lebanon, a country ruined by a lengthy civil war, their hometowns in Syria are destroyed during the brutal conflict there. Who will rebuild their houses?

Between Sisters by Manu Gerosa (Italy, Qatar)
Before life runs out, Ornella decides to confront her aging sister Teresa with a painful untold story – one that might change their close bond forever.

Liyana by Aaron and Amanda Kopp (USA, Swaziland, Qatar)
In Swaziland, some talented orphaned children create a fictional heroine and send her on a dangerous quest.

Feature Experimental or Essay

In My Head, A Roundabout by Lahcene Ferhani (Algeria, France, Qatar)
In the Ruisseau District of Algiers, workers and animals come together for a last dance of death: the city’s main slaughterhouse is about to close forever.