With the new breed of Qatari filmmakers educated abroad, Qatari actor and filmmaker Hafiz Ali Ali is optimistic that Qatari cinema will be vibrant in the coming years. The only challenge Qatari filmmakers face, though, is a dearth of equipment, which has to be sourced from other countries like the UAE and UK, said Hafiz.
Hafiz was speaking as Doha Talks, one of the features of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, yesterday delved into two important episodes in Qatari history and culture with the screening of two films on Qatar, The Scents of Shadows and Jasim, with the latter being premiered last night.
The Scents of Shadows by Hafiz deals with the history of Qatari cinema. It traces Qatari cinema’s evolution from the time of its birth to the time it evolved as a form of entertainment for the expatriate labour force, until the time it became a way of life. In the film, Hafiz effectively presents the cycles in the history of Qatari cinema poetically through the metaphorical use of ‘scents of shadows’.
The film places a lot of significance on cinema as a means of communication and interaction, not merely as a form of entertainment. Originally, the film was inspired by how architecture had influenced Qatari culture, according to Hafiz.
Hafiz has made other films such as Qatari Faces, The Oryx Return, Cab Driver and Now Within.
His ongoing projects include a film on the influence of films on children and another on autism.
Jasim, a film by Oscar-nominated director Peter Webber, narrates the story of Qatari hero Sheikh Jasim Al Thani. Shot entirely in Qatar with an all-Qatari cast, the movie was produced for the Qatar National Day celebration and will be shown on the annual day of the country in December.
The biopic is told visually with a virtual absence of dialogue, as it was for Webber the best way to tell the story. The visual images including Arabian horses, camels, horsemen, the sand dunes, ancient settlements and dhows makes the film a cinematic masterpiece.
In the 23-minute feature, Webber successfully encapsulates the various facets of Sheikh Jasim as an iconic hero.
“This is a film that captures a certain time, a certain place, and certain values,” said Webber, adding the movie was true to the Qatari culture and spirit.
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