Calling all young film enthusiasts: the second Ajyal Youth Film Festival, run by the Doha Film Institute, takes place from 1-6 December at the Katara Cultural Village and its judges will be the most particular film critics of them all – children and young adults.
The annual film festival is coming up once more and will no doubt lay down the red carpet for some of film’s most inspirational actors and directors. Likely attendees include Mohammed Harib (featured in this issue) and Salma Hayek to name but two at this prestigious festival.
The film festival builds on the Doha Film Institute’s history of community-based programming and aims to invite young people to discuss cinema and interact over film.
About the Doha Film Institute
The Doha Film Institute is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to promote the growth of the local film community. The institute also helps with funding and production of local, regional and international films and other programmes (including the Ajyal Youth Film Festival). You can follow the Doha Film Institute on a number of social media platforms. Twitter: @DohaFilm; Instagram: @DohaFilm; Facebook: www.facebook.com/DohaFilmInstitute.
Doha film experience
The central initiative of the Ajyal Youth Film Festival is the Doha Film Experience, with hundreds of young jurors choosing the award winners of the festival, with the aim for the young participants to develop critical self-thinking and cinematic appreciation.
Become a judge
If you are aged between 8-21, you can apply to be on the film judging panel, but you must apply as soon as possible. Jurors aged 8-12 (Mohaq ‘new moon’) will watch a series of short films and two feature length movies; those aged 13-17 (Hilal ‘crescent moon’) will watch four feature films and two short films; 18-21 year-olds (Bader ‘full moon’) will select their favourite films from among four features and two programmes of shorts. Activities start every day at 2.30pm from December 1-6 and finish at 7pm. Young judges can register online at dohafilminstitute.com/dfe and to get more information about the event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A diverse line-up of films are presented as part of the programme across multiple venues in Katara. While the focus of the festival is on films for and about young people, it’s not just for kids and the programme promises films from all over the world to excite film lovers of all ages. There is a ‘Made in Qatar’ section, opening and closing night gala screenings and free family screenings at the Sony Pop-up Cinema on the Katara esplanade. A full programme of events will be unveiled on the Doha Film Institute website from 12 November.
There are a variety of activities available and free for kids of all ages. There will be storytelling, music, dance and performances from local and international youth groups, as well as many other activities and events.
Hands-on access to the latest high-tech equipment used in filmmaking is available and the family-friendly interactive playground includes installations, educational games, apps and much more.
Box Office information
Don’t miss out: tickets for the festival go on sale from Tuesday, 18 November, at 1pm on the website and in person at box office locations which can be found at the Ajyal Festival Booth (City Center Mall) from 18 November-6 December, (Sat-Wed 2pm-9pm, Thu-Fri 2pm-10pm); Doha Film Institute Katara Drama Theatre Box Office from 18-27 November, (1pm-8pm daily) and the Katara Main Box Office from 28 November- 6 Dec, (28-30 November 1pm-8pm, 1-5 December 1pm-10pm, 6 December 10am-10pm). Regular screening QR25, premium screening QR40: www.dohafilminstitute.com/filmfestival.
The festival kicks-off with a documentary made for the fast lane
So the festival begins with the world premiere of Speed Sisters on December 1, with directorial debutante Amber Fares at the helm. The motor racing documentary follows the Middle-East’s first all-woman motor racing team.
Marah, Mona, Betty, Noor and Maysoon are five women taking the auto-racing world of Palestine by storm, one screeching doughnut at a time. Fuelled by gasoline, girl power, the desire for freedom and a kickin’ soundtrack, Speed Sisters paints a high-octane portrait of a group of charismatic and resilient women who are living their lives on their own terms.
The film was developed with the support of the Sundance Institute and Doha Film Institute’s grants programme, along with other film funds across the globe.
Fares will be present at the festival and explains that the film is very much about empowerment and determination: ‘We have spent five years in Palestine bringing this story to the screen and I am very excited that Doha will mark the start of our festival journey. Speed Sisters is a story about five fiercely determined women and their drive to break through the obstacles in their lives in order to stay true to themselves and their dreams.’
The film festival closes with Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet and many star names
‘To belittle, you have to be little.’
If philosophical musings are something that you enjoy, Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet is the perfect film for you. The animation is the closing film at the Ajyal festival and it makes its Middle Eastern premiere in Doha . It will be sure to give the children and young adults plenty of colour and content with the film having input from major Hollywood talent.
The narrative framework of the film is directed by Roger Allers (The Lion King) with contemplations on issues such as good and evil, love, work, freedom, marriage and death. It aims to capture Gibran’s work as poetry that arises from Arab culture but can resonate around the globe. The major star to have had input in Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet is Salma Hayek, famed for acting roles in Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. She is a producer on the project and also voices one of the characters.
• Lebanese artist, writer and poet
• Born 1883
• Third best-selling poet of all time, behind Laozi and Shakespeare
• Moved to America as a young man
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet poems
• Series of 26 prose poetry essays
• Chapters deal with different themes such as love, work, and crime and punishment
• Sold over 100 million copies
The eight directors of the film
• Mohammed Harib (Freej)
• Tomm Moore (The Secret of Kells)
• Michal Socha (Chick)
• Joan Gratz (Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase)
• Nina Paley (I Heart My Cat)
• Joann Sfar (Gainsbourg; A Heroic Life)
• Bill Plympton (Mutant Aliens)
• Gaeton Brizzi (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Voice actors include...
• Liam Neeson (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace)
• Salma Hayek (Frida)
• John Krasinski (Monsters University)
• Alfred Molina (Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark)
• Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon)
And the music is provided by...
• Gibran Yared (The English Patient)
• Damien Rice
• Glen Hansard
• Lisa Hannigan