Qatar-based media organization Doha Debates and Maine’s Point North Institute have teamed up to launch Solutions Cinema, an innovative online film festival dedicated to diversity and social change.

The month-long event, which kicks off April 1, comprises free screenings of 12 films – some of which are shorts – and interactive discussions. Registered participants will be able to start watching films on April 1, and then participate in interactive debates sparked by what they saw each Thursday starting April 8 from 12-1:30 p.m. ET.

The curated selection comprises two recent Sundance standouts, vérité doc “Homeroom,” by U.S. director Pete Nicks, about the senior class of the Bay Area’s Oakland High School contending with COVID-19 tragedy and injustice, and “Writing With Fire” (pictured) by India’s Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, about a group of low-caste women surmounting personal and professional obstacles to bring boots-on-the-ground journalism to India. “Writing With Fire” scored Sundance’s Audience Award and its Special Jury Award for Impact for Change.

“Doha Debates is delighted to partner with the Points North Institute to launch Solutions Cinema,” said Amjad Atallah, managing director, Doha Debates, in a statement. “This initiative will be extraordinary, bringing together filmmakers, educators and students for thoughtful dialogue and debate about how to better use the medium of film in the pursuit of solutions to some of humanity’s most challenging issues,” he added.

The Solutions Cinema fest is being touted as a first-of-its kind partnership. Doha Debates is a media organization funded by the non-profit Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, also known as the Qatar Foundation.

Points North Institute is the non-fiction creative hub based in Camden, Maine, best known for Maine’s Camden International Film Festival and for its partnerships with CNN Films and the Tribeca Film Institute. 

As part of the programming, Doha Debates will screen (among other titles) the below short films that are said to reflect the event’s focus on untold stories and diverse voices:  

·      Cherán: The Burning Hope”: a short, newly released documentary by filmmakers Elpida Nikou and Rodrigo Hernández exploring how an indigenous community in Mexico sparked a social movement in Mexican state of Michoacán. In 2011, more than 14,000 indigenous people from Cherán mobilized to defend their community from illegal logging and cartel violence. This film is in Spanish and the native Nahuatl language, subtitled in English.

·      The Water Queen,” self-financed by budding South African filmmaker Lungelo Mdlalose, this fiction film creatively draws attention to South Africa’s worsening issue of water scarcity. It features an all South African cast including Busisiwe Mtshali, best known for her role on the SABC1 sitcom “Thandeka’s Diary.”

· The Invisibles,” by Italian filmmakers Carola Mamberto and Diana Ferrero, depicts African migrant laborers during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in Italy in April 2020. It features rare footage of Ivorian union leader Aboubakar Soumahoro, from the Cote D’Ivoire, who met with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in June 2020 in an effort to win rights for the nation’s undocumented African workers. Aboubakar Soumahoro is a well-known figure in Africa and Italy. The film is in Italian, French and Ivorian dialect.