Doha Film Institute has chosen 34 projects from 25 countries, including 12 Qatar-based projects, for mentoring through Masterclasses and networking opportunities for the talents associated at Qumra 2017, the industry event that aims to nurture the new generation of filmmakers. This was announced at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival, where a strong showcase of captivating films supported by the Institute are being screened.
Directors and producers attached to 18 narrative feature films, 7 feature documentaries and 9 short films will participate in the 6 day programme of bespoke industry sessions designed to progress their projects and prepare them for international markets. The emphasis remains on supporting first-and-second-time filmmakers with projects in development and post-production. Qumra Masters including contemporary Iranian master Asghar Farhadi; French auteur Bruno Dumont; and Cambodian creative documentarian, Argentina’s eminent filmmaker Rithy Panh Lucrecia Martel and internationally acclaimed producer Paulo Branco will mentor first and second-time filmmakers during Qumra, to support the development of emerging filmmakers from Qatar, the Arab region and around the world.
The projects represent 25 countries of production with a total of 12 projects from Qatar-based directors, alongside 16 from the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region and six from the rest of the world. Of the 34 projects, 13 are features films in development, 12 are in post-production and nine are short films in development. Further, 23 of the projects are alumni of the Institute’s grants programme, three were supported through the Qatari Film Fund and six through other training initiatives. Of the nine short projects, six are by Qatari filmmakers, and all the projects have been selected through the Institute’s ongoing local engagement and training initiatives.
Directors and producers attached to projects will attend the sessions in Doha where they will be linked with more than 100 seasoned industry experts. The programme is specifically tailored to each project’s needs and is divided according to their stage of development. Projects in development will participate in group and individual sessions for script consulting, legal, sales, marketing and co-production advice along with one-on-one match-made meetings and tutorials.
Projects in post-production are divided into two strands: the Work-in-Progress sessions will present a series of closed rough-cut screenings of 20-minute excerpts from the four narrative and four documentary Qumra projects in post-production followed by immediate, individual feedback from a panel of selected industry experts; and the Picture Lock Screenings will present exclusive 20 minute excerpts of four feature-length Qumra projects in the final stages of post-production for leading festival programmers, broadcasters, market representatives, sales agents and distributors.
The 2017 Qumra Projects are:
Feature Narrative, Development:
- A House in Jerusalem by Muayad Alayan (Palestine, Qatar), about a Jewish American family who finds it hard to adapt to their new home in Jerusalem after they discover the grave of a young Palestinian girl.
- Solo by Mehdi Hmili (Tunisia, Qatar) about Amel, who is released from prison after an affair and seeks her missing son Moumen, in the lower depths of Tunis.
- The Maiden’s Pond by Bassem Breche (Lebanon, Germany, Qatar) about two women trying to maintain and negotiate their lives – with and against each other.
- Zanka Contact by Ismaël El Iraki (Morocco, France, Qatar) is the romantic idyll and eventful odyssey of a has-been rocker and a singer with a golden voice.
- You Will Die at Twenty by Amjad Abu Alala (Sudan, Egypt, Qatar) is about a world where extremism rules, a young man has to choose between life and death.
- The Return by Meyar Al-Roumi (Syria, France, Qatar), about a journey across Syria during which Taysir and Juliette meet and go to bury Kamal, who died during the fighting.
- The Other Wife by Meriem Mesraoua (Qatar, France) about Salima who, determined to secure her status as a wife, enlists a secondary spouse for her husband – only to find she has jeopardised her position.
- Hitch 60 (working title) by Sara Al Obaidly (Qatar, United Kingdom), where two mod girls from South East London embark on a dream holiday but end up on the journey of a lifetime, crossing continents and cultures, and growing up years on the road.
- iPhone Memory by Mahdi Ali Ali (Qatar) which presents three stories that intersect in Paris – about a Frenchman, who battles cancer while his wife wants an abortion; a Romani girl looks for someone to adopt her little sister; and a Syrian immigrant boy tries to survive by acting in the cinema.
- Azooz, the Bully Slayer by Mohammed Al Hamadi (Qatar). Set in 1992 and inspired by Al Watwat (Batman) stories, ‘Azooz the Bully Slayer’ is the tale of a 12-year-old who fends off a thief who has made off with a stash of Sega video-game tapes.
- DNA of Love by Hafiz Ali Ali (Qatar). After the death of his Qatari wife, a retired engineer visits the United States to find his estranged daughter, while the same daughter travels to Doha to find answers to her late mother’s past.
Feature Documentary, Development
- My Friend Gadhgadhi by Rafik Omrani (Tunisia, Lebanon, Qatar) is about Kamel Gadhgadhi, the infamous terrorist in Tunisia, who turns out to have been a close friend of the director at college.
- Republic of Silence by Diana El Jeiroudi (Syria, Germany, France, Qatar), which talks about the protagonist reclaiming the images and sounds of Syrians from her exile.
Feature Narrative, Works-in-Progress
- Memory Hotel by Heinrich Sabl (Germany, France, Qatar) is an emotional journey through European history. Set in a Red Army hotel in post-World War II Germany, the orphan Sophie grows up. She marries a paratrooper before escaping with another man.
- Land by Babak Jalali (United Kingdom, Italy, France, The Netherlands, Mexico, Qatar), is set on the plains of the United States and is a modern Western about Native Americans and whites, distance and longing, roadwork and abuse.
- They by Anahita Ghazvinizadeh (Iran, United States of America, Qatar), in which through the prism of J, a gender-expansive teenager going through puberty suppression, the film explores notions of in-between-ness, whether of gender, cultural identity, or the idea(s) of ‘home.’
- Madmen's Fort by Narimane Mari (Algeria, France, Greece, Germany, Switzerland, Qatar), in which desires and greed lurk like raptors, preparing to transform a utopian dream into tragedy.
Feature Documentary, Works-in-Progress
- Dream Away by Marouan Omara and Johanna Domke (Egypt, Germany, Qatar) set in Sharm El Sheikh, where young Egyptian workers are trapped between a liberal Western lifestyle and their traditional culture.
- Al Sahra by Saeed Al Batal and Ghiath Al Haddad (Syria, Lebanon, Qatar) in which two people become entwined in the affairs of the people of the besieged city of Gouta in a personal story about a group of young people in Syria.
- Stronger than a Bullet by Maryam Ebrahimi (Iran, Sweden, Qatar) that documents Saeed Sadeghi, the Iranian photographer who responsible for images from the Gulf War.
- Agnus Dei by Karim Sayad (Algeria, Switzerland, Qatar) set in Algiers, 2016, on one of Bab el Oued’s football fields, where Habib and his sheep El Bouq are getting ready for the fight.
Feature Narrative, Picture Lock
- The Journey by Mohamed Jabarah Al Daradji (Iraq, United Kingdom, France, Qatar) narrates the story of Sara who stands on the cusp of committing an unthinkable act, time stands still, giving her an opportunity to witness the consequences of her action. But is this a second chance or an admission of guilt?
- Beauty and the Dogs by Kaouther Ben Hania (Tunisia, France, Sweden, Lebanon, Qatar) that charts Mariam, who just wanted to enjoy her night out, but something terrible happens, forcing her to seek justice from the same perpetrator of the crime committed against her.
- Hunting Season by Natalia Garagiola (Argentina, France, Germany, United States of America, Qatar), in which a violent teenager reunites with his hunter father in the woods of southern Argentina, where he is faced with his own ability to love and to kill.
Feature Documentary, Picture Lock
- The Man Behind the Microphone by Claire Belhassine (Tunisia, United Kingdom, Qatar), an amazing story of love and family, celebrity and music through a portrait of Hedi Jouini, the godfather of Tunisian music.
- Reem Planted a Flower by Rawda Al-Thani (Qatar) is a textbook example of a well-behaved schoolgirl defies the omnipresent voice of the narrator to play with a dog.
- Sh'hab by Amal Al-Muftah (Qatar) is about an orphan embarks on a mythical journey that could reunite him with his parents.
- Ya Hoota by Latifa Al-Darwish, Abdulaziz Yousif Ahmed (Qatar) is about a little girl who attempts to save the moon from a gigantic whale along with her cousin.
- Angels, Spiders and Other Miserable Creatures by Fahad Al Kuwari (Qatar) is about a couple that pray for a miracle, and God sends them an angel. What will they do with it?
- Awakenings by Fahad Al-Obaidly (Qatar). Haunted by an obscure memory from his past, a young contemporary dancer inadvertently stumbles upon a painful forgotten truth, which releases his soul from the clutches of despair.
- SimSim by Amer Jamhour (Jordan, Qatar) is about a 12-year-old cemetery cleaner and con artist who tries to save enough money for a train ticket to Latakia, where he can become a fisherman away from his greedy boss.
- Clouds by Muzna Almusafer (Oman, Qatar), about a leopard hunter in a traditional village in the mountains, who goes through a transformation.
- Burn the Bird by Zahed Bata (Jordan, Qatar) is about a mother and son who explore the darkness of the night in search of a place to bury their past.
- Selective Mutism by Khalifa AlMarri (Qatar) about a young man caught up in various incidents of deception, intrigue and murder.