Students from Doha Montessori British School in Qatar graduated from Doha Film Institute's (DFI) first animation workshop for 2010, in a special event that took place at City Centre's cinema this weekend.
The event celebrated the achievements of the children, aged 7-11, following a nine-week workshop that taught them all aspects of animation, including "claymation" – the technique using clay to create characters. Featured footage of their work and some behind-the-scenes shots of the workshop itself were screened at the graduation. The special programme also included a short animation workshop for DFI's young guests, introducing them to the basic elements of animation and teaching them how to create an animated "flipbook," and a screening of the Disney animated movie, Ponyo, directed by Academy Award® winner Hayao Miyazaki.
This latest educational event builds upon the first series of workshops in 2009, led by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Scandar Copti, which paved the way for schools to take advantage of DFI's resources through its educational activities.
In line with DFI's aim to empower and inspire a new generation of Qatari filmmakers and reach out to all levels of community, the organisation's team, led by animation mentor Rahab Elewaly, sought to use the workshops to tap into the innate creativity of children, combining fun with the challenging craft of animation.
"The most impressive thing about children of this age is their ability to freely imagine. There are no boundaries to their imagination," said Elewaly. "Animation is a serious skill but it's fun in the making and even more fun when you see what you have made. The process requires a lot of patience – which can be difficult to ask of children – so I would show the class what they'd achieved to give them inspiration."
Fara Izyana Sariman, one of the workshop students, says: "I loved the workshop. I really enjoyed learning how to animate stuff properly, because I have always liked art. A lot of it was totally new to me, particularly learning how to use a lightbox, pencils and animation pegbars."
"The animation workshops are part of the broad spectrum of filmmaking that DFI is supporting through its year-long education programme. They give the younger generation the opportunity to participate in film early in their lives and realise that they have the potential to be the filmmakers of the future," said DFI's Executive Director Amanda Palmer.
"Seeing themselves and their work on screen is a good incentive for the students and helps parents discover the talents of their children and nurture them. It's all part of our plan to unearth new talents in the region and invest in the diverse cultural background of Qatar and the Middle East," added Palmer.
The Doha Film Institute is keen to work with educational institutions across Qatar to support new filmmaking opportunities. People who are interested in tailoring a workshop to a school's curriculum can email firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Doha Film Institute was officially launched at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and was founded by Sheikha Mayassa Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa. It is the umbrella organisation that oversees the Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF) which is being held from October 26-30 this year.