Doha is set to be one of the hottest cities for cinema in the coming months, thanks to an ambitious slate of
activities from the Doha Film Institute (DFI) that was unveiled today.
As Qatar's first international organisation dedicated to film appreciation, film education, and to building a
sustainable film industry, DFI has developed a year-round programme of events and new activities set to
take place in Qatar and the wider region. These include educational workshops, community programming,
cultural exchanges and the annual Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF), set to take place in October this year.
At a special event in Qatar today, some of the team members behind DFI provided an overview of the
exciting activities planned for the coming months, and outlined the different ways that members of the
community could get involved.
During a roundtable discussion with journalists, DFI's Executive Director Amanda Palmer articulated the
strategy behind the creation of DFI and its aims, saying, "DFI has four key areas of focus – education,
production, financing, and the annual Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF). These elements will enable wider
understanding and appreciation of film and filmmaking in our community as well as the creation of original
content from the region, access to funding so that filmmakers can get their stories heard, and the viability
of DTFF as a platform for emerging and established filmmakers."
Palmer explained that DFI's multilateral focus and their strategic cultural partnerships with organizations
including Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Foundation, Mira Nair's Maisha Film Labs, and Tribeca
Enterprises, all work together to raise the international entertainment community's awareness of Qatar's
growth in the film industry.
Present at the event with Palmer were Scandar Copti, DFI Education Director and DTFF Programmer, who
played a key role in the success of the 2009 edition of DTFF, and new DFI team member Lebanese
filmmaker Chadi Zeneddine, who is leading some of the education workshops this year.
With original content production as a vital part of DFI's mission, its commissioning team is now working
with regional and international filmmaking talent to produce documentaries, television and online
According to Palmer, DFI plans to provide financing and other support for new films from the Arab world,
assisting filmmakers from conception to production and distribution, to the promotion and advertising of
their finished work. DFI's film financing team has already received a number of strong scripts and plans to
finance 10 films in the region each year, which will create new opportunities in the Middle East and
establish Qatar as a filmmaking center.
To identify and foster new talent, DFI's educational team, headed by Oscar®-nominated Palestinian
director Copti, has an ambitious 12-month calendar of workshops both in Qatar and as far away as Africa
and the United States, aimed at inspiring and empowering the next generation of Qatari, regional and
From an immersive series of screenwriting, directing and filmmaking courses to providing mentorships in
acting, sound design, animation and video art, DFI is enabling both aspiring members of the film industry as
well as residents with a passion for film to learn the business of film firsthand, conferring hands-on skills
"Whether writing, shooting and scoring their own original short films here in Doha or working on
productions from Uganda to New York, an unprecedented number of people in Doha are learning how to
create films, which is critical to the long-term sustainability of a film industry in Qatar and the wider Middle
East," said Copti. "DFI has developed an education platform that is truly exceptional, by involving
participants as young as primary school children to bringing in seasoned filmmakers, and by developing
partnerships with organisations like Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Foundation, and Mira Nair's Maisha
During the discussion, Palmer also noted the extremely strong field of entries already being received for
the second annual Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF). With the addition of new film programmer, Hania
Mroue, and the recently announced Arab Film Competition, submissions have increased and audiences can
expect to see more of the same great programming they discovered last year at the festival.
Internationally acclaimed Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad has been appointed President of the Jury
for this year's festival and will preside over the Arab Film Competition that will award prizes for Best Arab
Film and Best Arab Filmmaker.
With the deadline for entries on 6 August, the 2010 Festival will also feature two audience awards -- one
for Best Narrative Film and the other for Best Documentary Film, with the prizes for the two Arab film
competitions at $100,000 (USD) each and the audience awards at $100,000 (USD) each.