Three successful editions of Doha Film Institute’s (DFI) Ajyal Youth Film Festival has proven that Qatar’s home-grown event that unfailingly charms children, youth and families alike, has only grown from strength to strength in its run-up to the upcoming fourth edition – and the young jurors have a big part to play in that success.
From November 30 to December 5, Ajyal, in its new and improved fourth instalment is set to build on DFI’s history of community-based film programming, the success of the Festival’s previous editions, as well as a year-round screening series. “The heart of the Festival is the Ajyal Jury,” DFI says, “which provides young film enthusiasts with access to films and filmmakers from all over the world in a fun, collaborative environment where you can express your thoughts and ideas.”
During the seven-day programme, the Ajyal Jury will inspire “creative thinking, co-operation and critical thinking and – most importantly – will lead to lasting friendships among jurors”. Last year, Ajyal welcomed 450 young jurors of 45 nationalities, from the ages of eight to 21. If you would like your child to be one of them this year, you can apply for one of the three Ajyal Competition juries, based on three age groups, explains DFI.
Mohaq means ‘New Moon’ in Arabic, and these are Ajyal’s youngest jurors, aged 8 to 12. The young people of this jury will watch a programme of short films and four feature-length films. Hilal, which means ‘Crescent Moon’ in Arabic, will be made up by Ajyal’s jurors aged 13 to 17. Five feature films and a programme of shorts make up the Hilal jury’s festival programme. The most mature of Ajyal’s juries, Bader – which means ‘Full Moon’ in Arabic – jurors are aged 18 to 21 and will select their favourite films from five features and a programme of short films.
Registration for the Ajyal Jury is open until October 25 – you must be between the ages of 8 and 21 to join the Ajyal Jury.
The competition line-up at Ajyal 2015 comprised feature films from 20 countries and a series of short film programmes. Jurors aged 8 to 12 watched one programme of short films and four feature-length films in Mohaq; those aged 13 to 17 evaluated five feature films and a programme of shorts in Hilal; and jurors aged 18 to 21 adjudged five feature films and two programmes of short films in Bader. The Jury also included a delegation of 24 international jurors who travelled to Doha for the event from 12 countries including Australia, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Serbia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
Meanwhile, DFI says it is keen to build a pool of performers in Qatar and has welcomed aspiring and established actors who are interested in being considered for roles in projects produced through the Institute’s Qatari Film Fund. “We encourage residents of all ages, nationalities and experience levels to apply. For the project currently in production, we are seeking men, women and children of Arab descent who can speak with a Gulf accent. We are also actively looking for people of all nationalities for DFI’s casting database,” DFI says about its casting call, “This is a great opportunity to join a growing filmmaking community in Qatar.”
The submission requirements mandate sending the following essential documents in Word or PDF format to [email protected]: Recent headshot, cover letter – tell us about yourself, CV, and copy of Qatar Passport or Qatar Residence Permit. The deadline for submission is October 1. “Following the processing of submissions, successful candidates will be contacted via e-mail and invited to audition sessions,” DFI says.
Jurors attend ‘In Conversation’ session with Arab Idol winner (2012) Mohammed Assaf and director Hany Abu-Assad, at last year’s Ajyal.