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Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Andrey Zvyagintsev, Gianfranco Rosi Booked for Qumra

Doha event forges ahead despite Qatar's diplomatic crisis

Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev, whose “Loveless” is among nine titles shortlisted in this year’s foreign-language Oscar race, is one of three acclaimed helmers scheduled to give master classes and mentoring sessions during the Doha Film Institute’s annual Qumra event.

The other Qumra “Masters” are Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the 2010 Cannes Palme d’Or winner for “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” and Italy’s Gianfranco Rosi, who won a Venice Golden Lion and a Berlin Golden Bear for two separate documentaries – the first time either festival had awarded its top prize to a documentary. Rosi scored the Lion in 2013 for “Sacro GRA” and the Bear in 2016 for “Fire at Sea.”

Qumra 2018, which runs March 9-14 in the Qatari capital of Doha, blends together a creative workshop, co-production market, and festival elements. The event was established four years ago by the Doha Film Institute (DFI) to help foster first and second works, mostly by Arab directors.

Palestinian auteur Elia Suleiman, who serves as Qumra artistic director, praised the three new Masters as “exceptional filmmakers who define what it is to continuously elevate the standards of world cinema.” DFI chief Fatma Al Remaihi said that the trio “will greatly benefit our filmmakers and enable them to further their own valuable contributions to the industry.”

The DFI, a key incubator and the most important funding entity for auteur-driven Arab fare, is forging ahead with Qumra 2018 despite an ongoing political crisis that has seen several Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar. The turmoil prevented DFI executives from attending the Dubai Film Festival, which wrapped Wednesday, and could cause some Arab directors and industry executives to skip Qumra.

The DFI said it would continue, in 2018, to provide creative and professional support to directors and producers of up to 25 features and 10 shorts in development or post-production. Recipients of DFI grants will be announced next week.

More than 100 international executives attended last year’s Qumra, including representatives from the Cannes, Venice, Toronto, and Locarno festivals and international sales and production execs.

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