In the run up to the third Ajyal Youth Film Festival, the Doha Film Institute hosted its annual gathering for the Qatari creative community, to acknowledge and encourage nationals associated with the filmmaking and creative industries in Qatar.
The event brought together over 120 home-grown talents who have contributed to the growth and development of the industries, strengthening Qatar’s rich cultural fabric and regional presence within the art and cultural space. The event also unveiled highlights of the upcoming Ajyal Youth Film Festival and invited them to actively participate in the Festival, and support the next generation of local creative talent.
A key highlight of the evening was a special tribute to the late Mohammed Lingawi, a popular children;s television host and performer who has inspired generations of Qataris with his talent and will always be remembered for his kindness, integrity and commitment to the development of the local film scene.
Headlining key events planned for the 2015 Ajyal Youth Film Festival are the premiere screenings of four diverse films supported by the Doha Film Institute including the Middle East Premiere of The Idol, from Academy Award-nominated Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad, world premiere of animated feature film Bilal, the regional premiere of Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya’s outstanding debut feature Very Big Shot and the Middle East premiere of Yared Zeleke’s first feature Lamb, Ethiopia’s official entry to the 88th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film and the first Ethiopian film to screen at the Cannes Film Festival where it premiered earlier this year.
Raising the curtain on the 2015 Ajyal Youth Film Festival, The Idol (Palestine, UK, Qatar, Netherlands/2015) screening on 29th November tells the inspirational true story of Mohammad Assaf, an amateur singer from Gaza, who became a worldwide sensation after winning the live-singing competition Arab Idol in 2013.
Director, Hany Abu-Assad and Arab Idol champion Mohammed Assaf, whose life story the film is based on, will attend the opening night in Doha on November 29th and will also participate in a special ‘In Conversation’ session on 30th November. The talented duo will provide an in-depth discussion about bringing Assaf’s life story to the big screen and highlight the power of combining music and cinema and the challenges facing Arab artists today.
Very Big Shot (Lebanon, Qatar/2015) from Lebanese first-time feature director and Doha Film Institute grantee Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya, is a dark comedy that takes a sly look at organised crime and political corruption. The film premiered at 2015 Toronto Film Festival and screened in competition at the 59th BFI London Film Festival. The film screens as part of the Bader competition segment at Ajyal for jurors aged between 18 and 21. The team of filmmakers and the main cast will be in Doha for the gala screening along with renowned current affairs journalist Marcel Ghanem who makes a cameo appearance in the film playing himself.
Lamb (France, Ethiopia, Germany, Norway, Qatar/2015) by Yared Zeleke, screens on December 1st and 5th as part of the feature films competing in the Hilal section at Ajyal, and is a beautifully crafted portrait of a young Ethiopian boy trying to find his way in the world.
The festival will come to a close with the world premiere of, Bilal(UAE/2015), a new animated feature film by Dubai-based Barajoun Studios. Involving creative talents from 22 countries, Bilal by Directors Ayman Jamal and Khurram Alavi is an inspiring adventure story of faith, hope and self-discovery.
The third annual Ajyal Youth Film Festival will be held from Nov 29 – Dec 5 at Katara. The programme consists of daily public screenings of local and international films; the popular ‘Made in Qatar’ section dedicated to showcasing home-grown talent from Qatar; SONY Cinema Under the Stars; family weekend; the Doha Giffoni Youth Media Summit; special events and exhibitions; the Sandbox interactive digital playground; school screenings; and the Ajyal Competition, where hundreds of young jurors between the ages of 8 and 21 will watch and discuss shorts and features and decide on the winning films.
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