In any big city, you’re bound to find an art-house cinema dedicated to showing the best of independent film. But Doha Film Institute (DFI) does much more. The not-for-profit organisation supports Qatari filmmakers and the growth of the local film community by providing funding and production assistance for local, regional and international films as well as running challenging and inspiring workshops, mentorship programmes and film festivals.
Past workshops have included the ‘7 Day Film Challenge’, during which participants had to write, produce, film and edit a short film in only one week. Similarly, the institute’s ‘1 Minute Film’ workshop tasked students and beginners with creating personal, original stories that last, as the workshop title suggests, just one minute.
One of the most dynamic film hubs in the region, as well as in Qatar, anyone with a keen interest in film should be keeping an eye on this gem.
A five-day event dedicated to developing the talented emerging filmmakers in Qatar and abroad. It selects 25-30 projects to participate, focusing on first- and second-time filmmakers, and connecting them with industry professionals through masterclasses with award-winning actors, directors and filmmakers, and setting up consultations and workshops. A programme of film screenings from the participating film makers – in addition to showing a selection of films funded or produced by DFI – runs alongside this and is open to the public.
Highlights from this year’s schedule included a screening of Academy Award-nominated film Timbuktu, followed by a Q&A with the film’s director, Abderrahmane Sissako, and a screening of the 1997 Iranian film Leila, from Iranian New Wave director Dariush Mehrjui.
From the New Voices in Cinema selection, Maqloubeh by Nicolas Damuni was a refreshingly cheerful look at life in conflict-stricken areas of the region, while Mais Darwazah’s beautifully shot feature-length documentary My Love Awaits Me by the Sea followed the director’s journey from Jordan to Palestine, after being inspired by the drawings and poems of Hasan Hourani.
The Ajyal Youth Film Festival
Although aiming to inspire the region’s younger generations, the Ajyal Youth Film Festival is a festival for all ages. It takes a special focus on films made in Qatar, but also brings the best of international animation, drama, comedy and documentaries to the country, and screen films for children as young as three.
The Doha Film Experience jury is made up of young people from Doha and around the world, who are tasked with deciding the winners for each category, encouraging them to express their opinions, engage in discussions and learn about different cultures.
December. Check with the website for latest dates and times, www.dohafilminstitute.com/filmfestival.
Fund your film
If you’re a Qatari filmmaker, you can apply for funding through The Qatari Film Fund, which will provide financial support for four feature films and eight short films each year, selected from two annual cycles. Feature films are eligible for the financial support of the film’s production, and shorts are eligible for support with development, production and post-production. It’s a fantastic opportunity for serious and ambitious filmmakers in need of a little extra help, as the fund works with each successful applicant to devise budgets and schedules, bring together a team and create a script as well as arranging mentorship with industry professionals.
For more information visit the website, www.dohafilminstitute.com/funding.
Tarsheed film making competition for university students
As Earth Day 2015 approaches, DFI and the Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation have launched a competition to raise awareness about conserving water and electricity. The competition is open to all university students in Qatar and must be 30-60 seconds long and provide a compelling way of demonstrating how you can save the earth’s resources.
The submission deadline is March 31. For more information and to enter visit the website, www.dohafilminstitute.com/pages/tarsheed-film-challenge-form.