Abderrahmane Sissako (Timbuktu), Leila Hatami (A Separation), Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) and Danis Tanovic (No Man’s Land) are the first names confirmed to participate as Masters in Doha Film Institute (DFI)’s newly-announced plans for Qumra, set to take place in Doha from March 6 to 11. 

The primary motive of the international gathering of creative film professionals is to contribute to the development of emerging filmmakers both from Qatar and around the world, with a special focus on first- and second-time filmmakers.

The announcement comes at the close of the second edition of DFI’s Ajyal Youth Film Festival.

Directors and producers attached to up to 25 projects in development or post-production will be invited to participate in the Qumra event. They will include a number of emerging filmmakers from Qatar as well as recipients of funding from the institute’s Grants Programme.

The programme will feature industry meetings designed to assist with propelling projects to their next stages of development, including master classes, work-in-progress screenings, bespoke matchmaking sessions and tailored workshops with industry experts. This creative exchange will take place alongside a programme of public screenings curated with input from the Qumra Masters.

The event will be organised in three main sections.

The Qumra Master Classes will be daily sessions, each led by one of the Masters. The participating filmmakers have full access to these sessions, and will also be open to accredited industry guests to attend in an observational capacity.

The Qumra Meetings are a series of one-on-one meetings, workshops and tailored mentoring sessions between representatives from the 25 selected projects and seasoned industry experts.

The Qumra Screenings are open to the public and feature projects funded by the institute through its grants and co-financing initiatives, as well as a series of films chosen by the Qumra Masters accompanied by Q&A sessions. 

Qumra is led by the DFI team, with the support of the Sarajevo Film Festival, which has an ongoing partnership with the institute.

Filmmaker Elia Sulieman continues in his role as artistic adviser to Qumra and DFI. Paolo Bertolin and Violeta Bava are on board as programming and industry advisers.

Fatma al-Remaihi, acting CEO of DFI, said: “I am delighted to share our plans for Qumra and honoured to welcome our first four Qumra Masters. They are each masters of their craft and their involvement will lend an exciting dimension to this creative gathering of filmmakers.

“This initiative has been designed to complement and expand on the existing support mechanisms our institute has in place to develop emerging talent. I am confident that with Qumra, we are creating something of tangible value for Qatar and our region that will yield positive and productive results for all involved.”

Meanwhile, Sulieman said: “The concept for Qumra has evolved over time into something that responds to the needs of filmmakers in a very meaningful way. It is founded on the idea that creativity and imagination should have a space to be nurtured and we intend to guide these emerging talents along the path to realise their vision.”

Sissako, who has established himself as one of Africa’s premier auteurs, added: “I am honoured to participate in the inaugural edition of Qumra and to share my experience in the hopes that it might benefit the filmmakers attending with their projects.”

While Hatami gained international acclaim for her role in Asghar Farhadi’s award-winning A Separation, Mungiu is one of the most prominent of the Romanian New Wave filmmakers. Tanovic is widely considered as one of the best Bosnian filmmakers of his generation.

The Arabic term “qumra” is popularly said to be the origin of the word “camera” and to have been used by scientist, astronomer and mathematician Alhazen (Ibn al-Haytham, 965-c.1040 CE), whose work in optics laid out the principles of the camera obscura.

The Ajyal Youth Film Festival included six days of screenings, workshops, exhibitions and special events, including the world premiere of DFI grantee Speed Sisters and the Mena premiere of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet.

The festival also saw the second annual Doha Film Experience – Ajyal’s youth jury, where hundreds of young people aged between eight and 21 years watch and discuss films and determine the winners of the competition.





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