Nine Doha-backed films dazzle at Toronto Film Festival
The new film on Mohammed Assaf's rise to fame had it's world premiere at TIFF on Friday. (Instagram)
Nine films made with support from Doha Film Institute (DFI) are screening at the ongoing 40th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
Three of the films make their world premiere at the annual event, including the next feature from Oscar-nominated director Hany Abu-Assad, The Idol.
The institute is also supporting the attendance of three Qatari filmmakers and content producers to attend the TIFF industry programme.
Bassam al-Ibrahim and Mohamed al-Ibrahim from Innovation Films and Khalifa al-Haroon, founder of iLoveQatar.net and the iLoveQatar network, are participating in the seven-day industry conference that brings together more than 250 high-calibre speakers on a range of topics relevant to the industry, including financing, co-producing, marketing and distribution, along with sessions dedicated to the craft of filmmaking, including master classes with prominent filmmakers.
Institute-supported films in the official programme include eight recipients of DFI grants with two world premieres: Lebanese crime drama Very Big Shot, directed by Mirjean Bou Chaaya, screening in the Discovery programme, and Mai Masri’s Palestinian drama 3000 Nights in the Contemporary World Cinema programme.
Other grantees making their North American debuts following successful international festival screenings include Frenzy directed by Emin Alper which won the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival this weekend, Nasser directed by Jihan El-Tahri screening in the TIFF Docs programme, and animated short film Waves ’98 directed by Elie Dhager, winner of the Palme d’Or for Best Short Film at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.
Three DFI grantees by first-time directors that made their debut in Cannes are also part of the line-up. They are Turkish coming-of-age drama Mustang directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Palestinian drama Dégradé directed by twin brothers Tarzan and Arab Nasser, and Ethiopian film Lamb directed by Yared Zeleke.
The Idol, directed by two-time Academy Award nominee Abu-Assad (Paradise Now, Omar) made its world premiere on Friday evening in the Special Presentations programme.
Co-financed by DFI, the film tells the true story of Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf. Abu-Assad and Assaf were in attendance along with Qais Atallah, the Gazan actor who plays the young Assaf in the film, and Ahmad Qasim and Abdelkader Abubaraka, who play his childhood friends.
Fatma al-Remaihi, CEO of DFI, said: “We are very proud to be in Toronto to represent Qatar at this important international gathering for the film industry. We are also very pleased to facilitate the attendance of three talented Qatari filmmakers and content creators.”
Al-Remaihi participated in a panel on the weekend as part of TIFF’s Industry Programme, titled “Industry Dialogues: Financing Talent Discovery”, where she spoke alongside Doreen Boonekamp, CEO of the Netherlands Film Fund; Laura Michalchyshyn, executive producer and co-founder of Sundance Productions; and Deborah Sathe, head of talent development and production at Film London.
The panellists shared insights on how the financing process can lead to the discovery of new filmmaking talent through international opportunities, programmes and mentors, and what filmmakers can do to get noticed.
TIFF continues until September 20.