Doha,April,16:With four major film festivals between them, along with the lion’s share of the region’s industry initiatives, the UAE and Qatar have numerous creative connections in filmmaking. But it’s a growing relationship, underlined by the Doha Film Institute’s presence at this year’s Gulf Film Festival.
“This is actually the third year we’ve been at GFF,” explains Fatma Al Remaihi, the DFI’s head of programming. “The first two years it was a smaller participation, where we gave Qatari filmmakers the chance to network and promote their films.”
This time around, the DFI has brought with it a selection of six films under the “Made In Qatar” banner, films that were chosen from the 19 in the Made in Qatar section that showcased at last year’s Doha Tribeca Film Festival. “It’s a nice mix of films that show a diversity of issues, a diversity in the subject matter and of techniques,” says Al Remaihi.
Among the selection is Lyrics Revolt, a documentary looking at the huge role Arabic hip-hop played during the 2011 uprisings. Then there’s Ghazil – The Story of Rashed and Jawaher, a story inspired by Romeo and Juliet set in the Gulf in the early 1900s.
In the documentary Al-Muqanna3, Tarek Abu-Esber examines the world of Ahmed Al Jaber, something of a Doha legend who drives around the city in cars decorated with flags and lights. “Everyone knows him in Qatar, but he is actually quite lonely and this is his only way of communicating with people. It’s his way of contributing to the piece of art that is the Corniche of Doha, that’s how he describes it,” says Abu-Esber.
Competing in the Gulf Shorts competition comes Ain (I) by Ali Al-anssari, which tells the story of a tormented psycho who demands perfection. “Basically, he doesn’t see this in his friend, so takes action,” says Al-anssari. “It’s inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, but we took that story and Qatarised it with our culture and personalities.”
The DFI might be bringing filmmakers to the UAE, but there is also movement in the other direction, explains Al Remaihi. “We’ve been using a lot of UAE resources, such as bringing UAE writers such as Mohamed Hassan Ahmad to Doha to give workshops.”
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