Celebrating the spirit of togetherness and the resilience of the nation in addressing the pandemic, the ninth edition of Ajyal Film Festival, presented by the Doha Film Institute (DFI), will deliver a week-long calendar of film screenings and community-oriented events under the theme ‘Press Play!’
Presenting an innovative hybrid model that adheres to all governmental guidelines regarding venue capacity and safety protocols, the seven-day festival from Nov. 7 to 13, 2021, has an impressive slate of 85 films from 44 countries, including Qatar, in a compelling selection of 31 feature films and 54 shorts that highlight the cinematic voices of accomplished directors and first-time and emerging talents.
This year’s Ajyal Film Festival will open with A Hero, directed by Academy Award winning Iranian film legend and DFI collaborator Asghar Farhadi. Winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival 2021, the film spotlights the complexity of human behaviour, and the consequences of the past, the volatility of the present, and the uncertainty of the future.
The diverse programme includes 22 films by Arab filmmakers and 32 by women directors, nearly a third of all films being screened at Ajyal, demonstrating how female talents are increasingly telling stories on the big screen with conviction and creativity.
This year, Ajyal will feature 13 films supported by the Doha Film Institute, which include recipients of the Spring/Fall Grants, co-financing, Qatari Film Fund and mentorship through the year-long labs and workshops. DFI supported films this year include 1982, And Then They Burn the Sea, Border, Costa Brava, Lebanon, Don’t Get Too Comfortable, Fever Dream, Land of Dreams, Little Palestine, Diary of a Siege Night, Olayan, Orca, School of Hope and Virtual Voice.
Continuing the tradition of one of the most unique cinema experiences, Ajyal Film Festival will offer a trans-adapted screening of the Institute supported film, 1982. Presented in collaboration with the Translation and Interpreting Institute (TII) of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), the screening is a tribute to the upcoming UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and highlights the power of film as a tool for inclusion. Written and directed by Qualid Mouaness, 1982 is about a 11-year-old boy, Wissam, who tries to tell a classmate about his crush on her during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon.
Ajyal is a film festival for everyone, bringing people of all generations together to find elements of ourselves in cinema. This year, we are excited to be introducing important works from award-winning filmmakers for Doha audiences to fall in love with, including winner of the Audience Award at the London Film Festival Mounia Akl’s DFI supported film Costa Brava, Lebanon; Captains of Zaatari by Ali El Arabi, winner of the Special Jury Prize for Best International Documentary and Feature Film at Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, Audience Award winner at 2021 Sundance Film Festival Writing with Fire by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, and winner of the Best Screenplay Award at Fajr International Film Festival, Brother’s Keeper by Ferit Karahan, are among the celebrated titles in this year’s line-up.
One of the most popular screenings at the festival, the 2021 Made in Qatar programme presented by Ooredoo, celebrates 10 promising young talents who are realising their cinematic ambitions, with some who presented their stories to international audiences at leading film events in Locarno and Venice. Directed by first-time directors as well as more established filmmakers who call Qatar their home, the films underline the commitment of the Institute to nurture homegrown talent.
The Made in Qatar selection includes: A Lens Under Water; Don't Get Too Comfortable; Olayan, And Then They Burn the Sea, When Beirut was Beirut, Border, Fever Dream, Kan Fe Nas, Remnants and Virtual Voice.
Following the success of DFI’s drive-in cinema in partnership with the Qatar National Tourism Council, Ajyal 2021 brings back this celebration of the communal film-going experience. The drive-in cinema screenings include 101 Dalmatians, Annabelle, Child's Play, Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone, The Conjuring and two brilliant animations - Maya the Bee - The Golden Orb and 101 Dalmatians.
The Ajyal Creativity Hub is a destination for film, art and music lovers of all ages to be immersed in multisensory experiences. In person activities include Geekdom, Qatar’s largest and one-of-its-kind pop-culture event; Ajyal Talks, gathering leaders from film, art, television and technology for inspiring and insightful discussions; and Ajyal Tunes, celebrating the country’s musical talents at themed concerts. Drawing inspiration from the Al-Kurd family living in the embattled Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, this year’s Ajyal Film Exhibition, ‘We Will Not Leave’ derives its name from their defiant and now iconic graffiti art.
Audiences can enjoy the Festival experience in person and from the comfort of their homes via online streaming platform. Tickets for Ajyal 2021 are available for online at https://www.dohafilminstitute.com/filmfestival.
Source: Press release
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