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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Doha Film Institute CEO to step down

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Abdul Aziz Al-Khater

A little less than two years after he joined the Doha Film Institute as its new CEO, Abdulaziz Al-Khater has decided to leave the organization.

Confirming the move, DFI said in a statement that Fatma Al-Remaihi, who has been overseeing the Ajyal Youth Film Festival, will temporarily assume his role while continuing her other responsibilities.

The statement added:

“We would like to thank Abdulaziz for his hard work and many contributions to DFI over the past two years and wish him all the best with his future endeavors. Confirmation of the new CEO will be announced in due course.”

Al-Khater’s exit comes as the government-funded DFI pivots away from holding glitzy Doha Tribeca Film Festivals to focusing almost exclusively on young people and the development of regional talent.

2011 Doha Tribeca Film Festival.
2011 Doha Tribeca Film Festival.

The transition appears to be a rocky one. In January, the organization said it was postponing its new film festival Qumra, after laying off some 40 employees. The festival was originally scheduled for March, but has been pushed back until 2015.

At the time, DFI said it was “realigning its objectives for 2014,” which staffers said partly involved meeting new budget restraints.

Complaints

In addition to internal problems, DFI also contended with external pressure from residents this year, after several Qataris and expats took to Twitter to complain about the organization, saying it did not do enough to support homegrown talent.

Under the hashtag #dfi_fails_again, residents accused the organization of nepotism and said that DFI was spending too much money financing foreign films instead of supporting local projects.

This may have been a dig at a deal DFI and US-based Participant Media announced in 2013, in which they said they were creating a $100 million revolving film fund to finance the production of a dozen movies worldwide.

DFI responded to the criticism by saying a new education program would soon be announced to “benefit all levels of filmmakers in Qatar.”

However, this program has yet to be rolled out, and it is unclear if Al-Khater’s exit will affect the plan.

Al-Khater’s leadership

When he moved to DFI in October 2012, Al-Khater, a Qatari businessman who previously worked as a banker, replaced Amanda Palmer, the first head of DFI.

Speaking to Doha News, a senior staffer who was laid off from DFI this year after working there since 2011 said that Al-Khater’s leadership was initially welcomed by the team, which had been struggling with morale issues.

But the former employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said a toxic work culture continued to be a problem for the organization.

He added that he hopes the CEO’s exit would signal a new beginning for the organization.

“It’s been a roller coaster – hopefully this is the last stop… If there was anyone who would be able to take DFI to a place where it would be successful again, it would be Fatma – she is very well-liked, and I hope that her appointment is permanent.”

Thoughts?

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sundar Vadhanam
sundar Vadhanam
7 years ago

overall i hope DFI would engage in real promotion of film Art……and encourage the talented artists…..looking forward for the best time with DFI to work with…..

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago

My personal opinion is that DFI and Qatar Museums are two examples of useless and failed projects, especially if you see the amount of money invested in them and the “Return On Investment” achieved so far. And by ROI, I do not mean necessarily money but also local cultural development, local art promotion, local art education, etc.

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

And talking about films, another useless project is the 1 billion dollar film dedicated to the Prophet (Peace be Upon Him). I do not know if it is also a DFI project but that also is a complete nonsense.
I hope it has been discarded as I have not heard about it since its first announcement. May be @dohanews can give us more details about that one?

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago
Reply to  Wildrose

No not that one. I was talking about this one 🙂
https://dohanews.co/qatar-group-blockbuster-film-on-prophet-muhammad-to/

The good thing is that DFI is not involved in it apparently!

filmingindoha
filmingindoha
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

That one was abandoned long time ago, when the owner of the “Group” ended up in jail for writing bad cheques. Seriously. Announced to invest 1 billion, turned out not to have few hundred thousands to pay his debts

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago
Reply to  filmingindoha

Lolll I did not know that. Thanks for sharing the info 🙂

Saleem
Saleem
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Agreed

Truth-Seeker
Truth-Seeker
7 years ago

Wish those wasted funds were directed at overcrowded hospitals that lacks basic facilities. Schools, roads, training of law enforcement etc..
We had enough of expensive toys serving as part of cheap contents shows directed at outside viewers.
Had to admit, though, it did create an interest from global media to focus on the country. That’s when they exposed it all and this time for real!

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
7 years ago

“why saying the Ajyal Youth Film Festival was pathetic” was a comment to delete? Is it that all of a sudden pathetic is considered swearing or “pathetic” is not enough to describe it and you have been too offended to hear such a soft definition of the Festival?

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