The Doha Film Institute’s (DFI) annual talent incubator event for Arab and international cinema, Qumra 2023, plays a decisive role in shaping the new generation of talent, providing them the voice and much-needed space to accelerate their script-to-screen journey, observed accomplished Arab filmmakers, who mentor young directors at the event.
Annemarie Jacir, whose films 'Wajib' and 'Salt of this Sea' have captivated global audiences and won international acclaim, said Qumra is invaluable at many levels, including how it has enabled young filmmakers, especially who have bold themes to narrate, the support they need.
She said themes set around Palestine and the struggles of its people are still taboo in the Western world and they are seen in a very critical manner. Qumra offers the platform for young filmmakers, who have such bold themes, to realise their cinematic aspirations.
While the landscape of cinema has changed tremendously since she started out, Annmarie says she is energised and inspired by the stories and narratives of today’s filmmakers. “They keep you on your toes,” especially in the manner they perceive various subjects that are relevant to the world today.
Annmarie said Qumra also helps create an audience for Arab cinema in the region, stating that it is possible that a huge critically and commercially acclaimed film can emerge from the region. “We must fight for our audience because the typical thinking is that there is not a large audience for Arab cinema. I never buy that argument.”
She said Arab cinema has long broken the glass ceiling, as is evident from the number of women filmmakers nurtured by the Doha Film Institute and who participate in Qumra. “We have always had a level playing field.”
Annemarie said she had wished for a mentor when she started her career as a filmmaker, one that Qumra today delivers for young talent. “My only advice to every emerging filmmaker is to trust their instinct – about the project and the situations they come across.”
Tala Hadid, whose films such as 'House in the Fields' have gained global recognition and has been associated with Qumra for many years as mentor, said the event has played a commendable role in offering seamless support to young filmmakers, even during the pandemic. Such support was much-needed, especially during the pandemic, she said.
Describing Qumra as a ‘very special space’ for cinema, Tala said its vibe is “relaxed, open and supportive” and “creates a sense of community,” which is relevant more so in today’s world, where the spirit of being together is often threatened.
She said that over the years, young filmmakers who participate in Qumra, have had a fundamental quest – to make a good film without being fazed by the number of hurdles they must overcome. For her, the golden rule to any aspiring director is to “be honest in your endeavour.”
Qumra is being held in an innovative hybrid format with in-person activities until March 15 and online sessions from March 19 to 21.
Tickets for the Qumra Screening are priced at QR35 and can be bought online at www.dohafilminstitute.com
Members of the public can also buy the Qumra Pass to gain full access to the Qumra programme or buy a Qumra Pass Online for the master classes or individual screenings only.
A general view of Working Breakfast on Day 2 of Qumra 2023 PICTURE: Eamonn M McCormack/Getty Images for Doha Film Institute