Qatari and Qatar-based filmmakers see a promising and vibrant film industry in the country as it continues to provide more opportunities to tell compelling stories on a global stage.
“It’s definitely exciting. I think most people are very optimistic about it. With Ajyal, Qumra, Northwestern University in Qatar and efforts of the Doha Film Institute, I think people have the space to make films and there are lots of stories in Qatar,” film director Maha Essid told reporters at a press briefing on Monday at The St Regis Doha.
She is the director of the 'Made in Qatar' film, ‘Refuge,’ an insightful short documentary about two Palestinian expatriates’ connection to their homeland, trying to find ways to stay close to their identity, history and culture. It is her second film after '426' in 2017.
On DFI’s support, she said: "It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of Ajyal. We come here every year to watch movies. There’s also Qumra where we attended masterclasses and watch renowned movies. It’s an honour to be part of Ajyal. This documentary was made at a documentary class in NU-Q.
“We have a lot of stories worth telling and I think there’s the effort, the support and the encouragement from a lot of different parties, and I think it’s gonna be big,” Essid said, citing Qatar’s diverse community “where people come from everywhere and co-exist in this country”.
The filmmaker plans to do a documentary in Tunisia this winter about a calligraphy artist. “It’s definitely exciting and we look forward to meeting new people at Ajyal, learning from the movies and the people around us,” Essid said.
Qatari film director Abdulanaser Hassan al-Yafei, director or 'F-57' (2018) echoed Essid’s views, saying the film industry in the country is growing rapidly. He said people now find a large number of films in Qatar compared to the previous years, expressing optimism that locally-made movies will soon be screened in cinemas across the country.
“Ajyal is really an excellent festival that brings a lot of filmmakers (from around the world) to Qatar, under one roof,” said al-Yafei. “We (have the chance to) talk and learn from each of us, and share our experiences.”
Al-Yafe’s 'F-57' talks about the “nefarious power of social media” where Yousef, a disturbed IT genius, targets teenagers in his wicked online game. “This is my fourth short film I made in Malaysia as a director, working with professional people there, and with the Malaysian army,” he said, adding that he stayed in Malaysia for some time to study English.
Ajyal’s seventh edition features 22 captivating films by Qatari directors and Qatar-based filmmakers in this year’s 'Made in Qatar' programme presented by Ooredoo.
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