Headlining the second edition of the annual Doha Tribeca Film Festival which will take place from 26-30 October, is award-winning independent Egyptian film maker, Ibrahim El Batout, with his latest narrative film, Hawi. Hawi is the only Egyptian feature film to enter the Arab Film Competition and one of four of which will be released as World Premieres. Written and directed by El Batout, this portrait of modern Alexandria, themes of human loss and displacement take center stage in place of a clearly defined story arc. Like all of Batout's films, Hawi recreates real-life stories, addresses all Egyptians with their own language- nonetheless creates an air of contemplation and intrigue for its audience, making them feel part of the film, yet keeping the exquisite cinematic experience at its best.
“Hawi is a purely independent effort, shot with a next-to-nothing budget, following a new out-of-the-ordinary independent movement in Egypt, which believes in making meaningful and entertaining films, without having to queue indefinitely at production houses for funding, or wait for permissions,” said El Batout. “The basis on which the film cast and crew intersected was their true passion and love for a cinema that has a significant message and role in mass-consciousness. The film cast and crew didn't receive any fees for their work, regardless of their level of professionalism, however they will be receiving a percentage of the film’s revenue,” he added.
Hawi is the latest film for the prominent Egyptian filmmaker, El Batout, who elevated independent cinema in Egypt to a whole new level; markedly with his last multiple-award-winning feature film "Ein Shams" (2008), which received remarkable international recognition.
It is noteworthy that the film received the 2010 Hubert Bals Post Production Fund of the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Hawi is the first Egyptian film ever to receive this fund (in this category), which is indicative that genuine independent cinema – made with modest resources, but profound passion and professionalism- not only can meet international standards, but most importantly can compete fearlessly with pictures from around the globe made with colossal budgets.
This year’s Festival features works from both emerging and established directors with genres including comedies, family-oriented films, epics, political biopics, thrillers and documentaries. The DTFF programme will be presented in four distinctive categories: the Arab Film Competition, World Panorama, Special Screenings and the Arab Short Film Competition. Ten films will participate in the Arab Film Competition, four of which are World Premieres: Hawi by Ibrahim El Batout, Grandma, A Thousand Times by Mahmoud Kaabour, Man Without a Cellphone by Sameh Zoabi and The Mountain by Ghassan Salhab.
The newly added Arab Film Competition will award prizes for Best Arab Film and Best Arab Filmmaker. The Festival will also feature two audience awards, one for Best Narrative Film and the other for Best Documentary Film. Each category features prizes of USD 100,000 each. Also new this year is the USD 10,000 prize for Best Arab Short Film, bringing the total cash prizes monies to USD 410,000.
“Our first Arab Film Competition demonstrates the creativeness of Arab filmmakers and the larger filmmaking community from the Arab Diaspora, who continue to pursue their passion and create films that touch human hearts. We have a powerful program of movies from the Arab world and as a programmer, I am excited to see first-time filmmakers competing alongside seasoned auteurs. With four world premieres and a wide range of different genres and styles of filmmaking, DTFF 2010 brings together a compelling collection of features and shorts that highlight the richness of Arab talent and creativity,” said Hania Mroue, an Arab programmer who worked alongside Tribeca Enterprises’ Chief Creative Officer Geoffrey Gilmore, David Kwok and Genna Terranova and a range of international consultants.
As Doha Film Institute's (DFI) annual celebration of all things film, DTFF is a community-minded, five-day event that showcases the best of Arab and international films, and has a full program of festival activities to engage the community, industry and filmmakers. Events include panel discussions, informal VIP events, audience-interactive Q & A’s, a Family Day with live entertainment, and a multimedia exhibit dedicated to cinema figures, soon to be unveiled at DTFF’s new hub, Katara, the Cultural Village, situated on the eastern coast of Doha.
For those who are not able to attend DTFF, DFI’s newly re-imagined and redesigned website launches today, with exclusive coverage to give cinema fans an online film festival experience. The site, www.dohafilminstitute.com , is a multimedia portal that features streaming video, online education, specialized film programmes, filmmaker interviews, festival reports, photo galleries, and news about the Institute.
The 2010 programming team led by Amanda Palmer expanded this year to include Arab programmers, Oscar-nominated Palestinian filmmaker Scandar Copti and Lebanese programmer Hania Mroue.
Amanda Palmer, Executive Director of DFI said the 2010 film line-up epitomises the true spirit of the Festival. "Our expanded programming team has had a challenging few months selecting from hundreds of submissions to present a strong Arab film line up for our first ever juried competition that underscores DFI's commitment to help drive regional talent in cinema and offer Arab filmmakers a platform to showcase their creativity. We are proud that our efforts to stimulate the growth of filmmaking in the region is being met with such enthusiasm and are confident our local and international guests will be able to discover new storytellers and cinematic gems that have the potential to earn global acclaim.”
Palmer continued, "The Festival plays a strategic role in supporting DFI's long term plans to build a sustainable film industry in Qatar. Through our year round education initiatives, we are nurturing the new generation of filmmakers, supporting regional and international film financing, and supporting the new wave in Arab filmmaking. One of our founding objectives has been to encourage regional talent, not only through creative support but financial and production assistance and key industry know-how, helping us achieve our goals to enhance regional infrastructure and promote filmmaking from the Arab world."
Launched in 2009, the Doha Tribeca Film Festival reflects a successful cultural partnership between DFI and Tribeca Enterprises. The Festival provides an annual platform that celebrates DFI’s year-round programs and the wonders of film appreciation and entertainment from every corner of the globe.
Geoffrey Gilmore, Chief Creative Officer of Tribeca Enterprises, said: “The range, diversity and quality of this year’s program underscores our mission to showcase the full spectrum of international cinema – from the world’s most esteemed veteran directors to the emerging new class of Arab storytellers. It’s challenging to limit the slate to under 50 films, so this is a very thoughtfully curated lineup.”
“We have received more than 300 submissions from over 50 countries, with many films from the Middle East, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt that offer a unique insight into the region, as perceived by today’s filmmakers,” said Scandar Copti. “The films in our Arab Film Competition are evocative of the trials, tribulations and bittersweet facets of everyday life in the Arab world. As an Arab filmmaker, I am very proud to welcome four world premieres that will give our international audience an insider’s look at modern realities around the region, and help emerging and established filmmakers get the support they deserve.”