This year there is a short film for everyone at the DFI's Ajyal Film Festival. From world cinema, to Qatar's best, a slew of 54 titles have been grouped in eight themed programmes: Made in Qatar, Made in USA, A World of Colour, Under the Trees, The Journey Within, Changing Times, Uncertain Futures I, and Uncertain Futures II.
Short films are where the filmmakers of tomorrow hone their craft, and where the filmmakers of today experiment with something different...
Fatma Hassan Alremaihi, Festival Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Doha Film Institute, said: “Short films are often very personal statements of our experience of the world and our search for understanding, and offer audiences new ideas and perspectives. This year, we have a very rich showcase of short films including films Made in Qatar and from around the world. We are incredibly impressed by the creativity that shines through in each of the short films – the narratives the filmmakers have chosen, the craft they bring to their work and the techniques they use.”
The Made in USA programme presents a selection of the very best in contemporary American short form filmmaking and includes The Chicken (USA/2020) by Neo Sora, about a young Japanese immigrant, who after mishandling an emergency he witnesses on the streets of New York City, cannot bring himself to butcher the chicken he bought for dinner. Moving (USA/2019) by Adinah Dancyger, explores how the challenge of transporting an old mattress into a new apartment becomes an absurdist, cinematic one-woman choreography, full of humour and pathos in this wordless vignette of city life. Lonely Blue Night (USA/2020) by Johnson Cheng, follows an awkward family reunion at a business dinner which leads a Chinese mother to realize the consequences of leaving her daughter in the care of an American homestay family.
The Made in USA programme will premiere on 11 November at 9.30PM at Katara Opera House, Building 16.
The Journey Within programme compellingly showcases how a journey within oneself can lead to a revelation at every step. Films include Umbrellas (France, Spain/2020) by José Prats and Álvaro Robles, about a village where the rain never stops and where young Kyna spends her days playing happily, protected under her father’s umbrella beard. A Lens Under Water (Qatar/2021) by Fatma Zahra Abderrahim is an eye-opening and colourful dive into the teeming coastal waters of Qatar with underwater photographer Faisal Jarkas. Louis’ Shoes (France/2020) by Théo Jamin, Kayu Leung, Marion Philippe and Jean Géraud Blanc is inspired by interviews and testimonials from people with autism.
The Journey Within programme will premiere on 12 November at 7.00PM at VOX Cinemas, Doha Festival City.
Changing Times is a dynamic programme of shorts that explores the natural state of turmoil to find meaning in chaos. It includes DFI supported film Olayan (Qatar/2021) by Khalifa Al-Marri, about a boy who forms a bond with a newborn camel. Don’t Get Too Comfortable (Yemen, USA, Netherlands, Qatar, UAE/2021) by Shaima Al-Tamimi contemplates the collective feeling of statelessness and belonging by migrants through introspective letters written to her grandfather. Night (Germany, Qatar, Jordan, Palestine/2021, pictured above) by Ahmad Saleh explains how in a city devastated by war it can be difficult to sleep, let alone dream. Silence (Norway, Iraq/2020) by Brwa Vahabpour, sees how a young Kurdish girl who has recently become deaf from an infection struggles with her disability and begins to feel increasingly isolated from her community.
Changing Times programme will premiere on 13 November at 2.00PM at VOX Cinemas, Doha Festival City.
Uncertain Futures I is a thought-provoking programme of shorts that illustrate the uncertainty that lies at the beginning of some of life’s most meaningful journeys. The programme includes And Then They Burn the Sea (Qatar/2021) by Majid Al-Remaihi, where Al-Remaihi ruminates on the experience of witnessing his mother’s gradual and terminal memory loss over the course of many years. Shark (Australia/2021) by Nash Edgerton, sees how Jack, a serial prankster, finds his perfect match in the equally daring Rose. Before Darkness (Iran, Afghanistan 2021) by Mosayeb Hanaie is about an Afghan woman who hides her child because she does not have enough money to take both across Iran’s border, yet her plan is exposed with heartbreaking consequences.
Uncertain Futures I programme will premiere on 13 November at 5.00PM at VOX Cinemas, Doha Festival City.
Uncertain Futures II is an extension of Uncertain Futures I. BJ’s Mobile Gift Shop (USA/2020) by Jason Park is about BJ, a young Korean American hustler, who tirelessly runs throughout the city of Chicago making hard-earned sales out of his infinitely convenient “mobile gift shop”. Trumpets in the Sky (Palestine, Lebanon, France, Belgium/2021) by Rakan Mayasi is about Boushra, one of the Syrian potato-picking girls in Lebanon, who returns from a long day in the field only to learn that today - her childhood will come to an end. Neon Phantom (Brazil/2021) by Leonardo Martinelli is about Joao who works in the gig economy as a delivery driver. He dreams about buying a motorcycle and transforming his life into a musical, but his reality is far harsher.
Uncertain Futures II programme will premiere on 13 November at 8.00PM at VOX Cinemas, Doha Festival City.
For all tickets and info about Ajyal Film Festival, check out their website.