The much anticipated Ajyal Youth Film Festival begins today!

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AngelPolacco

The Ajyal Youth Film Festival seeks out the best films in the world to showcase to young audiences and lovers of the film industry. This year Ajyal will showcase an exceptional array of films tackling various social issues and raising awareness on different causes.

Four years strong

Ajyal 2016, presented by the Doha Film Institute (DFI), is in its fourth year running. The festival begins on November 30, 2016 and will have 42 public film screenings, 18 jury screenings, panels, exhibitions, red carpet events, and exciting activities over a period of six days at Katara Cultural Village. 

Ajyal 2016 will showcase 70 thought-provoking films that highlights the theme of positive social change. These films were selected in order to inspire the youth and encourage discussions on real and current world issues. The film line-up includes 24 features and 46 short narratives and documentaries, from 33 countries that cover themes ranging from women empowerment to the global displacement crisis, the loss of loved ones, financial dependence, separation and every day struggles, presented with an underlying spirit of optimism and hope that will warm the hearts of the viewers.

Two feature films will be premiered at the opening and closing nights of Ajyal, The Eagle Huntress, directed by Otto Bellfor the opening, and The Red Turtle, directed by Michaël Dudok de Wit and produced by the world-renowned Studio Ghibli,for the closing. The screening of these films will be their debut in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Local Talent

There will be 17 films screened as a part the “Made in Qatar” section, which celebrates work by local filmmakers and those who call Qatar home.  

The 2016 program marks a milestone with the world premieres of the first completed projects from the 2015 Qatar Film Fund recipients, Nora Al-Subai’s Al-Johara andJassim Al Rumaihi’s Amer: An Arabian Legend; The Waiting Room by Hend Fakhroo and AJ Al-Thani’s Kashta, recipients of the Institute’s Grants Program, also make their debuts at the 2016 Festival. 

Fatma Al Remaihi, Festival Director and CEO of Doha Film Institute, said: “Ajyal is a festival of cinema for the community, which has truly become an event for all generations. At the core of this celebration are young people from Qatar and around the world, who come together in a creative and inspiring environment, to explore and engage with the many interesting films and subject matters that fuels their curiosity and sparks their imaginations.

“Since our inception four years ago, we have evolved tremendously, especially in the diversity of our programming that encourages critical thinking on contemporary issues, and highlights the power of films to shape perceptions and change minds. This growth would not have been possible without the love and encouragement of our jurors and audiences, who breathe life into this community event,” Al Remaihi also said.

In the spirit of competition 

Ajyal 2016 will also have a competition line-up, which comprises of 14 meaningful feature films from 17 countries and a series of short film programs. Over 500 jurors, people who will watch and analyze the vast variety of films, from ages 8-21, will make up the the Ajyal Competition Jury. 

These jurors will judge the films under three competitive categories: Mohaq, Hilal, and Bader. In addition to this there will also be panels, workshops, Q&As and discussions with the filmmakers participating. 

The 2016 Ajyal Jury includes a delegation of 24 international jurors who will travel to Doha for the event from 10 countries including Australia, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Serbia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Film screenings 

This year, Ajyal is introducing Midnight Screenings and will also include the screening of The Idol by Hany Abu-Assad to mark the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Ajyal 2016 will screen 15 films that are supported by the Doha Film Institute through its Grants Program, co-financing, Qatari Film Fund or projects mentored through its labs and workshops.  

These include the feature films: Under the Shadow by Babak Anvari (Spring Grant 2014); Listen to the Silence by Mariam Chachia (Spring Grant 2016) and The Salesman by Asghar Farhadi, produced by Memento Films Production and Asghar Farhadi Production, in coproduction with Arte France Cinéma and in association with DFI, Memento Films Distribution and Arte France.

Image: Kashta

The short films at Ajyal supported by the Institute are: Waves by Ely Dagher (Spring Grant 2014); Ave Maria by Basil Khalil (Fall Grant 2013); Mariam by Faiza Ambah (Spring Grant 2013); and The Waiting Room by Hend Fakhroo (Fall Grant 2015) ; Al-Johara by Nora Al-Subai (Qatari Film Fund 2015); Amer: An Arabian Legend by Jassim Al-Rumaihi (Qatar Film Fund 2015); and Kashta by AJ Al Thani (Fall Grant 2015).

Internationally acclaimed films 

There will also be a number of internationally acclaimed films screened at Ajyal 2016. Directed by Ken Loach, I, Daniel Blake was the winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year, while The Salesman won awards for Best Screenplay and Best Actor. Fire at Sea, directed by Gianfranco Rosi, won Berlinale’s Golden Bear this year. The Eagle Huntress won acclaim at Sundance, and Enclave by Goran Radovanović was Serbia’s entry for the Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film last year. 

Image: The Eagle Huntress

There are also three films that will be contending at the Oscar’s for Best Foreign Language Film, and they are being screened at Ajyal 2016. These include Under the Shadow (entry by UK), The Salesman (by Iran) and The Idol (by Palestine). Ave Maria was also Oscar-nominated for Best Live Action (Short Film) at the 2016 Academy Awards. 

Tickets go on sale from 16 November and are priced QR25 for general screening. Tickets are available for purchase 24 hours a day at ajyalfilm.com or from the Ajyal Katara Main Box Office in Katara Building 12 or Ajyal FNAC Ticket Outlet, FNAC Qatar (at Lagoona Mall).

For more details on the Ajyal Youth Film Festival, please visit www.dohafilminstitute.com/filmfestival