Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF) organisers have officially announced the programme of films to be screened at the inaugural festival next month. Mira Nair’s biopic Amelia starring Hilary Swank and Richard Gere, will be the movie to be shown on opening night.
The entire film slate consists of 32 movies, 12 of which have roots in the Middle Eastern region, and eight of which have been made by Arab filmmakers, explained the organisers.
And despite this year’s festival not being a competition in as much as there are no prizes, there will be two audience awards of $50,000 each – one of which will be designated specifically for an Arab filmmaker.
DTFF executive director Amanda Palmer explained: “These Arab filmmakers now come to the festival with a one in eight chance of winning a $50,000 award, which represents an excellent contribution towards their next movie.”
Palmer described her excitement at the film lineup, claiming that putting together the relatively short programme of films had been a difficult challenge.
“With only 33 films, we had to make sure we had exactly the right balance of genres in there, whilst maintaining a very high quality,” she said, adding “we wanted to represent regional filmmakers, so we had to find Arab films that could stand up with the same strength as some of the other movies we have chosen.”
And according to Palmer, this is exactly what she and her colleague, chief creative officer of Tribeca Enterprises, Geoff Gilmore, have achieved.
Gilmore said: “The film programme was curated through a true collaboration between ourprogramming team in Doha and New York. We believe the line-up for our firstfestival reflects the genuineness of that cultural partnership and is embodied in theremarkable diversity and aesthetic range of the work.”
And the list does represent a broad range of genres and backgrounds. Whilst Amelia is something of a Hollywood blockbuster, other films may have a more independent feel, but represent an equally high calibre of filmmaking with many having received rave reviews and critical acclaim across the globe.
Other Hollywood films include The Informant! from Steven Soderbergh starring Matt Damon, as well as the academy award winning Coen brothers’ offering, “A Serious Man.”
Cairo Time, which stars Patricia Clarkson should offer an interesting insight into an ‘East-meets-West’ style romance. The Arabic films in the lineup represent some of the best regional filmmakers and movies of today and yesteryear.
As part of the festival’s attempts to reach the wider community, they will also be screening the 1969 Egyptian film, The Mummy (Al-Momia) - which has been restored by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation – to audiences at an open air location at Souq Waqif.
Palmer said she could not yet say who will be attending the festival, but announcements will be made over the coming weeks about the filmmakers, actors, actresses and other celebrities who will be coming to Doha for the event.
Many of the filmmakers who are coming to Doha will also host workshops and classes for the local community to help them develop various sets of skills.
“We’ve programmed this slate with the local audience at the forefront of our minds,” claimed Palmer, adding “we are creating an exciting and varied film festival experience by bringing some of the best Arab and international films to Doha.”
“We are proud of the commitment of our attending filmmakers, who will help us take cinema appreciation to a new level here,” she said, adding “these filmmakers will share their storytelling by not only showing their films, but by also engaging in other film- related activities.”
Palmer pointed out that relationships formed with filmmakers for this year’s festival will continue into the future, with the experts providing other educational programmes in the years to come.
Nair, who Palmer described as becoming a major partner of the DTFF in terms of education, said: “I am honoured to present Amelia as the opening night of the inaugural DTFF. Amelia was truly modern, a visionary, and my film explores her quest for balance between the ecstasy of the sky and the responsibility of the earth. It is, in a sense, an action adventure, with Hilary Swank as the true embodiment of the spiritual power of Amelia Earhart.”
Thirty-one of the listed films will be eligible for one of the $50,000 audience awards, with the eight Arab made films eligible for the second. The winners will be announced on the closing night on November 1.
“During the ceremony, the festival will also announce a screenplay development and filmmaker grant programme, illustrating its commitment to develop and support filmmakers year-round in the region,” a spokesperson added.
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