Film

DFI's Qumra online edition boasts over 150 global film professional

Experts from 35 nations to give the 45 selected film projects a competitive advantage through online mentoring sessions, screenings, and curated One-on-One meetings
DFI's Qumra online edition boasts over 150 global film professional

While there is nothing quite like attending Qumra in person -- with its Masterclasses, meetings and mentoring sessions -- this year the pandemic has once again forced the much anticipated industry event online. It's a loss for both the Doha-based audiences but also the filmmakers, whose meeting via Zoom with industry professionals from around the world will certainly be just as creative and chock-full of information and mentoring, but perhaps a bit less personal and intimate. There is something to be said for the human touch.

What it may lack in intimacy, Qumra will more than make up in acclaimed directors, producers, writers, film festival representatives, fund managers, distributors, digital platforms and broadcasters, and expert consultants, sales and acquisition head attending, via online meetings. More than 150 global film professionals, from 35 nations around the world will prepare the 45 projects helmed by emerging and established filmmakers for release and distribution. Some are in the development stage, while others are on "picture lock" meaning we will get to watch them soon, in Cannes, Locarno or Venice. Inshallah.

Among our most anticipated projects participating in this year's Qumra, here at MIME we do have a few favourites. The follow up to the haunting The Translator is Anas Khalaf's narrative in development The Photographer the story of a photographer working at the heart of the Syrian government who decides to defect. The reinvention of what is considered loyalty and faithfulness to one's country and one's self is a theme in Khalaf's work with his collaborator, in life as well as in work, Rana Kazkaz. So this is a project we can't wait to watch on the big screen.

Oscar-nominated Palestinian filmmaker Farah Nabulsi also has a narrative feature in development titled The Teacher which is about a Palestinian teenage boy, who discovers that his schoolteacher is involved with the darker side of resistance. Khuzama by Qumra favourite A.J Al-Thani from Qatar would be the talented filmmaker's first narrative and currently also in development. The film is the story of Azzam, the young heir to a Bedouin tribe, who is discovered to be a woman the night before her wedding to Khuzama, sent by her mother to save her from the perilous, barbaric land of Remal. Talk about gender bending!

Among the films we'll get to watch soon, in picture lock post production, are Mediterranean Fever by Maha Haj from Palestine, The Dam by Ali Cherri from Lebanon, The Last Queen by Damien Ounouri from Algeria and The Return by Meyar Al-Roumi from Syria. Among the world cinema projects, also supported by the Doha Film Institute and mentored at this year's Qumra, are Autobiography by Makbul Mubarak from Indonesia and Domingo and the Mist by Ariel Escalante Meza from Costa Rica.

A film we simply cannot wait to watch is Backstage by real wife and husband team Afef Ben Mahmoud and Khalil Benkirane. The film is a Tunisia, Morocco, France, Belgium, Norway, Qatar co-production which also points to the unifying power of cinema. The story of how a stage injury during a performance of a Tunisian contemporary dance troupe touring Morocco triggers a series of events through a night across a forest, on the way to the next village’s doctor, the film also stars the stunning Ben Mahmoud.

Filmmaker Rithy Panh at a press briefing online during Qumra 2021

Among the documentaries in picture lock is While We Watched by Indian actor and filmmaker Vinay Shukla, a film which is both raw and timely, offering an intimate portrait of the frontlines of truth in India.

This year’s Qumra project Mentors include DFI Artistic Advisor and filmmaker Elia Suleiman and internationally acclaimed filmmakers Kamal Aljafari, Rithy Panh, Ghassan Salhab, Tala Hadid, Talal Derki, and Annemarie Jacir. Among the feature projects Consultants are film festival executives Paolo Bertolin and Violeta Bava; editors Benjamin Mirguet and Alex Bush; ; sales executives Gabor Greiner, Aranka Matits and Martina Droandi; scriptwriters Joelle Touma, Britta Krause and Antoine Waked; producers Joslyn Barnes, Didar Domeri, Catherine Dussart and Dora Bouchoucha; project coaches Matthieu Darras, Zsuzsi Bankuti and Teresa Cavina; post production expert Konstantina Staurianou, sound expert Severin Favrieau, VOD experts Kevin Chan, Ava Striker and Pierre Alexandre Labelle and documentary consultants  Brigid O'Shea, Jihan Al Tahri and Bob Moore.

Shorts mentors include the lovely Alice Kharoubi, Laurent Crouzeix, Ben Thompson, Wouter Jansen, Camille Hebert Benazet, Wim Vanacker, Ayman el Amir, Karim Aitouna and Flavio Armone. Series mentors include Ryan O’nan, Bassem Breche, Gabriele Capolino, Frédéric Pittoors D’haveskercke, Neerja Narayana and Marike Muselaers.

Festival guests include representatives from Berlinale, Venice, Cannes, Locarno, Tribeca, Toronto, Sarajevo, Sundance, Karlovy Vary, Hot Docs, Dok Leipzig, BUSAN, Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Visions du Reel, Cairo, Marrakech and others.

Fatma Hassan Alremaihi, Chief Executive Officer of the Doha Film Institute, said: “Qumra 2022 continues to serve its founding mission of creating a seamless journey from script-to-screen and beyond for exceptional talent from around the world. As the region’s premier film industry hub, it continues to identify and promote brave voices in cinema in sharing compelling stories with universal resonance."

DFI's Qumra event will run online from 18-23 March, 2022 and if you wish to know more, visit their website.

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