The Doha Film Institute, which is a leading incubator for quality Arab fare, has announced the 39 projects receiving its Spring grants — roughly half of which are directed by women.
Several of the nearly completed works that made the cut are likely to surface on the international festival circuit, starting with Venice in September.
These include “Gaza My Love,” a buzzed-about comedy about the disruptive effect of the discovery of an ancient Greek statue at the bottom of the Gaza sea, co-directed by Palestinian twin brothers Tarzan Nasser and Arab Nasser, whose Gaza hairdressers-set drama “Degradé” made a splash in 2015; “The Gravedigger” by promising Somalia-born director Khadar Ahmed that tells the story of a Djibouti gravedigger trying to re-unite his family in a time of strife; and Iraqi director Shawkat Amin Korki’s “The Exam,” about two sisters who cheat on a college admissions exam to avoid a forced marriage. Korki’s previous works include “Memories on Stone,” which won multiple awards.
Several other DFI-supported works now in post are by known MENA directors such as “My Dad Isn’t Dead” by Morocco’s Adil El Fadili, which is about a nine-year-old boy with a vivid imagination, living in 1955 during Morocco’s “Years of Lead”; and late French-Moroccan director Dalila Ennadre’s doc “Jean Genet, Our Father of Flowers.”
The latest batch of mostly Arabic projects set to be financially supported and creatively nurtured by the DFI also includes nine works from outside the MENA region. Four of these are from Colombia, Haiti, Bangladesh and Tanzania, which are countries that haven’t previously tapped into the institute’s fund.
“We proudly look towards past and future grant recipients as an extension of DFI’s ever-lasting commitment to the development of independent cinema and are delighted to see the inclusion of new countries covered within this cycle,” DFI CEO Fatma Hassan Alremaihi said in a statement.
Among the nine non-Arab projects that have made the cut for DFI coin is Kentucky-set French doc “The Last Hillbilly,” which recently screened for buyers at the virtual Cannes market as part of ACID Cannes, the parallel section that still announced its official selection despite the festival’s cancellation this year.
Italian video artist and filmmaker Yuri Anacarani’s “Speedboats,” which the DFI said depicts the story of an alternative society under the canals and palaces of the Venetian lagoon, is also among the docs-in-post grantees.
The DFI’s Spring grants also confirm its recent venture into the TV series realm with development funding going to anthology Arabic skein “Oddity Tales from a Strange Land” being mounted by Jordanian director Ahmad Samara. The animated series project comprises eight stories drawing from “diverse ancient historical tales and mythologies spread throughout the Arab world,” according to press materials.
(Pictured: “Oddity Tales from a Strange Land”)