The world’s longest-running film festival is set to begin this Wednesday, in which 8 films funded by the Doha Film Institute will make their premier.
The Venice Film Festival, now in its 77th year, is the first international film festival in 2020 to not be cancelled or moved to an online platform due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
One of the 8 DFI-funded films that was selected to screen is “Under Her Skin”, which is set to be the first Qatari short film to ever screen in the history of the event. Written and directed by Qatari filmmaker, Meriem Mesraoua, the 15 minute coming of age drama is about a young girl named Sarah living in Oran, Algeria. When her mother forbids her from biting her nails, Sarah must now abide by rules she does not fully understand. By regaining control over her actions and projected image, Sarah slowly redefines her attitude towards herself and others.
Other DFI-funded films that will also be screening in the festival include “Notturno” by celebrated Italian documentarian Gianfranco Rosi, “Harvest” by the Lebanese short film Palme d’Or winner Ely Dagher, “Ghosts” by Azra Deniz Okyay, “Our Choices” by Salah Al Ashkar, “The Greatest Wait” by Razan Al Salah, “Gaza Mon Amour” by Tarzan Nasser and Arab Nasser, and “200 Meters” by Ameen Nayfeh.
The announcement of the films’ selection at the prestigious event is a highly important achievement for the increasing success of the Doha Film Institute, as well as the growing development of Qatar’s reputation as a nurturing hub for up and coming filmmakers in the region and beyond. Furthermore, Mesraoua’s presence in Venice is a testament to the festival’s commitment to giving more opportunities to female filmmakers, as well as Qatar’s ongoing efforts to foster women directors. In 2016, a study conducted by Northwestern University in Qatar found that 60% of emerging filmmakers in the country were women.
The festival, which is set to open on Wednesday and run until September 12th, will be held in the Italian city with a host of various safety measures being upheld as a response to the Coronavirus crisis – such as limited seating, thermal scanners, and a fan-free red carpet. Festival goers arriving from outside Europe’s Schengen zone are required to take a COVID-19 test prior to their departure as well as a second test upon their arrival in Venice.