Doha Film Institute Outlines Upcoming Slate of Film Education and Entertainment

Published July 5th, 2010 - 02:07 GMT

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

international filmmakers.

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

and experience.

"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

Film Labs."

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. 

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