By Anand Holla
While the inaugural Focus on Qatar event, presented by the Doha Film Institute, came to a close on Friday, the three-day event conceived to put the focus on home-grown talent did its job rather well by uniting the Qatari film professionals’ community through discussions and screenings.
As part of the Next Generation Short Film Programme that put the limelight on the short filmmakers that have emerged in Qatar over the past five years, 11 shorts made by bright, passionate Qatari filmmakers were screened on Thursday. While some were part of last year’s Ajyal Youth Film Festival, some were made even before.
Yousef al-Moadhadi’s 10 % is a timely satire on a young man’s bad obsession with his cell phone. Perpetually worried about his battery running low, the protagonist finds himself in all sorts of troubles because of his love for his gadget. He loses his job, crashes his car, and even falls into a sewage pit – the last bit proving to present him the much-needed moment of clarity. This crisp 7-minute short won the Made in Qatar award at Ajyal 2014.
Abdullah al-Mulla’s 5-minute short titled Old Airport Road is a thought-stirring insight into the mind of an introvert haunted by existential dilemma. Delusional, a young man wanders the city, lost in his imagination and perpetually feeling like he’s never alone. It’s only in his room that he can be at peace.
Noor al-Nasr’s cheery Attack of the Health Invaders is a poignant commentary on the unhealthy diet pattern that the current generation is hooked up on. Hamood chooses soft drinks over water and a stash of sugary snacks over proper food. Sucked into a video game, Hamood’s bad diet choices don’t take him too far in it.
Hind al-Ansari’s Amreeka Laa! explores a clash of generations and ideas. Yousif desperately wants to go to university in NYC, but his father is opposed to the idea because of his own sour experience when he was a student there.
Land of Pearls is an accomplished piece of work by Mohammed al-Ibrahim. Shot and edited neatly, it takes us through a heart-breaking story that a pearl shop owner tells his grandson while recounting his encounters with the sea in the 50s.
Proving how a good short film can effectively narrate a tale in just two minutes, Amal al-Muftah’s Al Kora unfolds in an old Qatari village and makes a big impact. A boy playing soccer by himself accidentally kicks the ball over a wall. He is unsure of retrieving it but his young sister comes to his rescue – her act of kindness may not work in her favour though.
Molokhiaphobia! by Abdulla al-Ali is a one-minute Vine-like telling of a kid named Yousef’s heightened phobia of the green leafy vegetable. Noor Ahmed Yaqub’s My Grandfather’s Past Through My Eyes, too, is a minute-long short of a little girl’s modern imagination of her grand-dad’s retelling of his past.
Nora al-Subai’s My Hero, which won the best short film award at Ajyal 2013, is about a young boy who idolises his busy father and finds a smart way to spend more time with him. The Racer by Sophia al-Maria is “a quiet lament about the tragic results of street racing in Qatar.”
Latifa al-Darwish and Rouda al-Meghaiseeb’s interesting documentary Temsah tracks artist Abdulaziz – nicknamed Temsah which means crocodile in Arabic – whose works led to Skanwah, the first comic book created in Qatar.
On Friday, three films were screened as part of Innovations Films Showcase. “For the past half-decade, the team at Innovation Films has been writing, producing and directing films that represent some of the best talent Qatar has to offer,” the DFI said, about the company that has been “at the forefront of Qatar’s cinematic rise.”
In Mohammed al-Ibrahim’s Bidoon, Qatar Foundation students Aziz and Rana, of different social standing, are in love. They decide to get married but their families are against it. Aziz must take a call on what he must do next. The beautifully shot 20-minute short leaves some warmth behind.
One of Ali al-Anssari’s first films, I is a striking 17-minute short film. A psycho demands perfection in every aspect of his life. When he notices his friend’s asymmetrical face, he decides to take matters into his own hands.
Mohammed al-Ibrahim and Ahmed al-Baker’s hour-long film Lockdown: Red Moon Escape makes for compelling cinema. Saif and Rashid are out in the desert fixing a flat tyre when they encounter the unimaginable – a pack of zombies on the loose. Saif escapes, but when a military task force jails him, he finds himself surrounded by supernatural beings.
Maryam al-Sahli’s 7-minute short T Boy is a heart-warming tale of a young Indian IT professional who has moved to Doha on the promise of lucrative employment but ends up making tea in an office. Befuddled by a particularly vexing problem at work, a manager learns about the protagonist’s sharp skills and things may finally look up for the young man.
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