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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Line-ups announced ahead of this month’s Al Jazeera, Ajyal film festivals


Al Jazeera International Documentary Festival trophies
Al Jazeera International Documentary Festival trophies

Hundreds of films are expected be screened – some for the first time in the region – at the end of this month in Qatar during two separate annual film festivals.

The first, the Al Jazeera International Documentary Festival, has recently announced the names of 147 films that it plans to show from Nov. 26-29 at the Ritz-Carlton, Doha.

The annual festival – which is now in its eleventh year – is free and open to the public.

The titles – whittled down from 775 entries from 90 countries – are split into four categories: 30 long, 50 medium, 47 short and 20 “new horizon” films made by amateur or new filmmakers.

All successfully shortlisted entries are competing for cash prizes, ranging from QR10,000 to QR50,ooo.

Work from 50 different countries have been selected this year, and Qatar-based filmmakers comprise the third largest group among them, with a total of 13 entries.

The titles include long films such as “A Single Word,” a film co-produced by the Al Jazeera Documentary Channel about the Senegalise agriot (storyteller) tradition, and “Wheels of War,” which follows four ex-militiamen from opposing sides in the Lebanese Civil War, whose passion for motorbikes encourages them to lay down their weapons.

Additionally, four of the 20 shortlisted “New Horizon” entries are from Qatar.

“We received some good films this year from Qatari filmmakers, some of them from Qatar TV and Al Jazeera. I feel there are good and promising young directors in Qatar,” Festival Director Abbas Arnaout told a press conference last month.

Spain makes up the largest group of films overall with 17, and China is second with 16, and three countries – Guinea-Bissau, Jamaica and Cape Verde – are exhibiting work for the first time year.


Meanwhile, organizers of the Ajyal Film Festival, which runs from Nov. 29 to Dec. 5 at Katara Cultural Village this year, have just finalized their plans for the event.

Adding on details released last month, the Doha Film Institute said the star of the opening film “Arab Idol” will be in Qatar for the screening.

The movie is based loosely on the life of Mohammad Assaf, who grew up in the impoverished, besieged Gaza strip, became a wedding singer and then went on to win the TV show “Arab idol” title in 2013.

Several films that are up for awards will also be screened:

Tickets for Ajyal go on sale on Nov. 16. More information on the Ajyal Film Festival can be found online here.

Do you plan to attend either event? Thoughts?

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