Qumra 2022 will be held as an online event from March 18 to 23, with a total of 45 promising projects from around the world. Out of these, three feature narratives, three documentaries, nine shorts, and one series by Qatar-based talent have been selected to participate in the prestigious annual industry incubator event. Also noteworthy, three feature projects by Qatari female directors included in this year’s line-up along with three projects in post-production from Qatar.
Qumra is the Doha Film Institute's annual industry event, which had to scale back this year because of the ongoing pandemic. Sure, on the ground here in London we feel like Covid-19 is a distant memory, but the rest of the world perhaps has a more realistic approach and Qatar's protocols and restrictions have made it challenging to organise the kind of worldwide event they used to put together before 2020. It's a pity, really, as Qumra online is not the same and a few of the participating filmmakers have made their disappointment known to me. But an online event is better than nothing at all, so the show goes on, through Zoom.
During this upcoming edition, Qatar has the strongest presence among the 45 selected projects by filmmakers from the Arab world and beyond, which will participate in the online roundtables, feedback sessions, and collaborative skills development on key knowledge-sharing platforms. This year’s edition continues to advance Qumra’s goal to strengthen filmmaking skills among emerging talent from Qatar and beyond, and provide meaningful support to help aspiring film talent to reach their full cinematic potential.
At the Ajyal Film Festival back in November of 2021, the 'Made in Qatar' programme was extraordinary, with an emphasis on short documentary projects which came out of a short doc lab with Cambodian maestro Rithy Panh. Highlights included Qatar-based Yemeni filmmaker Shaima Al-Tamimi's short Dont Get Too Comfortable which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September of the same year; but also Suzannah Mirghani's irreverent look at modern life Virtual Voice; and Majid Al Remaihi's And Then They Burn the Sea, which premiered at Locarno in August of 2021.
What is wonderful about a culturally diverse country like Qatar is that a 'Made in Qatar' programme includes of course, Qatari nationals like Al Remaihi but also filmmakers from around the world like Al-Tamimi and the Sudanese-Russian Mirghani.
"We can’t wait to share their universal stories with audiences around the world." -- Fatma Hassan Alremaihi
Fatma Hassan Alremaihi, Chief Executive Officer of the Doha Film Institute, said: “As our nation celebrates one of its crowning achievements with the hosting of the FIFA World Cup 2022 this year, we also want to celebrate the significant cultural achievements of our locally driven, globally accomplished film industry. As we continue to apply an integrated focus on promoting homegrown talent through film appreciation, skills development, financing support and high-level networking, we are honoured to witness their incredible talent thriving. “
“We are proud of the creative professionals who have seized the opportunity to build competencies that resulted in this year’s exciting line-up from Qatar at Qumra 2022," Alremainhi continued, "the diversity of the formats of the works – from feature film to series – and the masterful storytelling talent displayed, whether it is highlighting our heritage, telling tales of people and places in Qatar or inspiring fantasies, we can’t wait to share their universal stories with audiences around the world.”
Among the film projects by Qatari talent, two are feature narratives in development, one feature documentary each in development, post-production, and picture lock, one series in the development, five short narratives in development, two in post-production, and one in picture lock.
2022 Qumra projects from Qatar:
Development- Feature Narrative
· Khuzama by A.J Al-Thani (Qatar) is about 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.
· The Pearl by Noor Al-Nasr (Qatar) tells the story of a tech-obsessed Qatari teen, who travels back in time to an era before his beloved technology existed when the city’s main source of income was pearl diving.
Development- Feature Documentary
· When The News Breaks You by Hamad Al-Hajri (Qatar) narrates the story of conflict journalists who keep the world informed of war, revolutions, political unrest, natural and manmade disasters.
Post-Production - Documentary – Work-in-progress
· Qatar Stars by Danielle Beverly (Qatar, USA) is set in a girls’ rhythmic gymnastics school in Doha led by a former Russian gymnast providing a space for empowerment and freedom.
· Let’s Play Soldiers by Mariam Al-Dhubhani (Yemen, Qatar) is about Nasser, a child-soldier who tries to find his place in his community in Yemen, where the war forced him to become the guardian of his younger siblings’ fate.
Post-Production - Documentary – Picture Lock
· Places of the Soul by Hamida Issa (Qatar) depicts a Qatari woman, who travels on an environmental expedition to Antarctica.
· Traditional Qatari Songs by Aisha Al-Jaidah and Kholoud Al Ali (Qatar) brings back Qatar’s traditional children’s songs with new beats and colourful animations to appeal to the kids of today.
Short Narrative – Development
· I Wished for Solitude by Hamad Alfayhani (Qatar), A mother grapples with the loss of her identity as she takes on the arduous job of caretaking for her ill son.
· Abu Fanoos by Amira Abujbara and Horia El Hadad (Qatar), On a routine road trip to a petrol station in 1980s Qatar, Khaled and his grandfather encounter a strange and eerie presence in the middle of the desert.
· Sandogi by Noor Alkuwari (Qatar), A middle-aged man is left to question his existence as he goes through an extraordinary journey to reconnect with himself.
· The Line by Hitmi Al Hitmi (Qatar), Born into a silly, yet strict hierarchical social structure, Bu Mubarak finds himself in a constant struggle to enjoy simple pleasures that are considered beneath his class.
· Mercy by Abdulaziz Mohammed (Qatar), A woman finds herself in a moral struggle when a man asks her for help with a difficult request.
Short Narrative – Post-Production – Work-in-progress
· Kinship by Ali Alhajri (Qatar), When a shadow emerges with the birth of his newborn, Khalid must come face to face with his past.
· A Simple Cut by Maha Al-Jefairi (Qatar), After 13-year-old Kholoud rebels and cuts her hair without her mother's approval, what should be a minor disagreement between mother and daughter turns into a series of mishaps and unfortunate mistakes that end up changing the relationship unexpectedly.
· The Swinging Chandelier by Karim Emara (Egypt, Qatar), After moving back into the old worn-out house he grew up in, Ameen, a newlywed Egyptian man, struggles to attend a crucial online job interview due to a visit from his needy in-laws.
Short Narrative – Post-Production – Picture Lock
· A Proposal by Nadia Al-Khater (Qatar), A young Qatari man dreams of marrying his American fiancé. However, he must first face a panel who hold his fate in their hands.
The Qumra 2022 will include 11 feature projects in development, 17 feature projects in post-production, 6 in Qumra Series, and 11 in Qumra Shorts. Women directors helm 20 of the total selected projects.
For more information about the Doha Film Institute, check out their website.