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Ajyal Film Festival to shine spotlight on 20 local productions


Ajyal Film Festival 2013
Ajyal Film Festival 2013

Local filmmakers are expected to debut nearly two dozen productions during this year’s international Ajyal Youth Film Festival.

The six-day event, organized by the Doha Film Institute (DFI), will be held from Dec. 1 to Dec. 6 at Katara Cultural Village.

A selection of 20 locally produced films will be showcased under the category “Made in Qatar” during the festival, which have been produced by both national and expat talent, and experienced and aspiring filmmakers.

Due to the significant number of local entries this year, the films will be screened over a period of two days (Dec. 4 and 5).

Fatma Al Remaihi, acting CEO of DFI and festival director of Ajyal, said in a statement:

“The thematic diversity and quality of projects in the ‘Made in Qatar’ section is a testament to the growth and vibrancy within the creative community of our nation. I look forward to welcoming festival-goers to witness this growth and celebrate local talent with us at Ajyal.”

The films will be book-ended by two much-anticipated films – firstly, Speed Sisters, an action-packed documentary based on the region’s first all-female motor racing team.

Making its global debut as the festival opener, the movie aims to challenge regional stereotypes and depict the realities of a war-stricken West Bank through the sport of racing.

Closing the festival is an acclaimed animated rendition of Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, which will make its Middle Eastern debut in Qatar on Dec. 6.

Made in Qatar films

The first of the two-day local movie screenings involves short films made through a collaboration between DFI and Seha, Qatar’s national health insurance scheme.

Seven various films created by independent filmmakers will also be shown, including:

  • 10%, directed by Yousef Almodhadi, about a man obsessed with his mobile phone that lands him in all kinds of trouble;
  • Amreeka Laa by Hind Al-Ansari, which narrates the story of Yousif, who wants to go to university in New York City while his father is vehemently opposed to the idea;
  • The Big Dream by Nadia Tabib, about a 10-year-old Algerian boy born in Qatar who hopes to become a champion swimmer;
  • He Will Steal It by Abdulaziz Al-Saadi, on the temptation and moral dilemma of a boy who spots a driver leave his mobile phone in the car without locking it;
  • New Day by Ali Ali, which depicts an ill woman who prays for assistance until one day she receives news that changes her life;
  • Qarar by Ali Al Ansari, a suspenseful tale of a young married couple trying to survive an epidemic that has turned the people into zombies;
  • T Boy by Maryam Al Sahli, a crushing film that sheds light on immigrant workers through the life of an IT professional who ends up in a job making tea.

Video still: Amreeka Laa by Hind Al-Ansari
Video still: Amreeka Laa by Hind Al-Ansari

Day two will comprise of films produced by the six winners of DFI’s Tarsheed Short Filmmaking Challenge, a competition that was held to signify Earth Day earlier this year.

The competition was hosted by DFI and Kahramaa with the aim of producing short films about the importance of water and energy conservation.

The works of seven independent filmmakers will also be showcased throughout the day. They are:

  • After My Death, directed by Mohamed Al Hamadi, wherein the soul of a recently deceased young woman is in for some bitter surprises as she pays a visit to her mother, her husband and her girlfriends;
  • Coucou by Meriem Mesraoua, which captures the distorted reality of a senile mind, through the life of 80-year-old Samira. Her fragile mental state shatters when an upstairs neighbor’s laundry lands on her balcony;
  • Hind’s Dream by Suzannah Mirghani, about a young Bedouin woman who spends weeks alone when her husband is away. Their tent is her world yet her dreams travel far;
  • Kings and Queens of Qatar by Shamir Allibhai, which focuses on Qatar’s women’s chess team, the nation’s first generation of female players at the 40th World Chess Olympiad held in Istanbul;
  • Lumiere by Aisha Abduljawad, an abstract symphony of images that plays on the stark contrast between light and shadow, open and closed spaces and urban and natural landscapes;
  • Public Phone by Ethar Ahmed Hassaan and Leena Al-Musalmani, where four people from different backgrounds make calls to all corners of the world and show they are all united in their human struggles; and
  • Temsah by Latifa Al-Darwish, on the life of Abdulaziz as he prepares to visit Dubai’s comic convention hoping to find a publisher for “Skanwah,” the first comic book from Qatar.

Day one of the locally produced films will take place on Dec. 4 at Katara Drama Theatre from 7pm onwards. The second and final day will be on Dec. 5 at the Katara Opera House from 5:45pm onwards.

While admission for “Made in Qatar” screenings are free, organizers recommend that viewers make a reservation to avoid not getting a seat. This can be done on DFI’s website here.

The festival

This is the second year DFI will host the Ajyal Film Festival, which launched as a new offering after DFI ended its four-year partnership with the Tribeca Film Festival.

Ajyal Film Festival 2013
Ajyal Film Festival 2013

Through its annual festivals, Ajyal aims to use cinema as a method of encouraging discussion and new, young filmmaking talent.

The festival also hopes to attract film lovers of all ages to attend and discuss the screenings together, with the Arabic word Ajyal translating into “generations.”

Last year’s inaugural festival was structured around the theme of Japanese anime, but this year’s is a bit more broad, focusing on “rediscovering cinema.”

A full program of screenings is to be released tomorrow, according to Ajyal officials.

Not all film screenings will be free.

Tickets will begin sale on Nov. 18 at 1pm and can be purchased on DFI’s website or at several box offices, including:

  • Ajyal Festival Booth (City Center Mall) from Nov. 18 to Dec. 6, (Saturday to Wednesday 2pm to 9pm; Thursday and Friday, 2pm to 10pm);
  • Doha Film Institute Katara Drama Theatre Box Office from Nov. 18 to 27, (1pm to 8pm daily); and
  • Katara Main Box Office from Nov. 28 to Dec. 6, (Nov. 28 to 30, 1pm to 8pm, Dec. 1 to 5, 1pm to 10pm, and Dec. 6, 10am to 10pm).

Held at Katara Cultural Village, the six-day event will include local and international films, family days, exhibitions, an interactive digital playground and school screenings.

A Doha Film Experience will also be held, where hundreds of attendees — ages eight to 21 years old — can watch, discuss and help determine winning films, according to DFI officials.

Do you plan to watch any of the “Made in Qatar” films? Thoughts?

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