The Doha Film Institute announced a slate of 45 promising projects in various stages of production that will gain significant support through its annual industry incubator event, Qumra, which will be held online from March 18 to 23, 2022. The event is usually a highlight of the year for industry professionals, trade media and filmmakers as it is one of the few places where all aspects of film making and distributing come together for a week of masterclasses, screenings and meetings. But alas, for the past two years the world and all its in-person interactions have been put on hold, or held in a diminished scale and Qumra 2022 is once again an online only event. Filmmakers will still benefit from the industry insight but the human interaction is just not to be.
Through an online programme that includes round-tables, feedback sessions and evaluations, and collaborative exercises on advanced knowledge-sharing platforms, Qumra 2022 will continue its rich tradition of providing crucial support to emerging film talent from the Arab world and beyond, despite the challenges of travel and physical events created by the pandemic.
Fatma Hassan Alremaihi, Chief Executive Officer of the Doha Film Institute, said: “As an organisation committed to nurturing authentic new independent voices in cinema, maintaining meaningful and valuable support for creative expression remains our strategic priority. We must also balance this important work with focusing on ensuring the safety and well-being of every participant, including our highly acclaimed team of mentors from around the world.
She added: “Crucial to the success of filmmakers from the Arab region and beyond, Qumra has established itself as a rich showcase of quality, independent and creative films from around the world that has enabled filmmakers to realise their dreams and gain global acclaim. We are continuing the tradition with this edition’s impressive projects, which stand out in their distinctive approach to storytelling and cinematic vision. We are confident that the participating projects at Qumra 2022 will make headlines and earn the acclaim of audiences globally.”
Featuring activities focused on ensuring the success of promising talents on their script-to-screen journey, the 2022 Qumra online sessions are dedicated to exploring and developing fresh new projects from the region. The programme will be held online to reach the goal of accelerating the success of filmmakers to present their projects to industry experts around the world.
Qumra 2022 features 16 projects by Qatar-based talent, including 13 by Qatari nationals. Of 45 projects, 39 are recipients of the Doha Film Institute’s Grants programme, 26 are supported through the DFI training programmes. In all, 11 feature projects are in development, 17 feature projects in post-production, 6 in Qumra Series, and 11 are in Qumra Shorts. 20 of the selected projects across shorts, features and series are helmed by women directors.
The 2022 Qumra feature length projects are:
Development- Feature Narrative
- Al Baseer - The Blind Ferryman by Ali Al-Fatlawi (Iraq, Switzerland, Qatar) is about a blind ferryman, who finds his way around the southern Iraqi marshes until one night he gets lost and meets a mysterious woman.
- The Photographer by Anas Khalaf (Syria, Qatar, Germany) is about a photographer working at the heart of the Syrian government who decides to defect.
- The Teacher by Farah Nabulsi (Palestine, UK, Qatar) is about a Palestinian teenage boy, who discovers that his schoolteacher is involved with the darker side of resistance.
- Blacklight by Karim Bensaleh (Algeria, France, Qatar) narrates the story of Sofiane, an Algerian student living in France, who is threatened of expulsion after missing his exams.
- 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
- Chasing the Dazzling Light by Yaser Kassab (Syria, Qatar) documents Yaser and his father in Aleppo, who decide to make a joint film that challenges the distance between Sweden and Syria.
- My Dream to Fly by Asmaa Gamal (Egypt, Qatar, Lebanon) is an immersive portrait of a group of young people from the crowded slums of Cairo who escape their daily hardships on motorcycles by night.
- My Father Killed Bourguiba by Fatma Riahi (Tunisia, Qatar) is set against the coup of 1987 in Tunisia, in which the filmmaker unspools the history of his father who wanted to be part of it.
- Those Who Watch Over by Karima Saïdi (Belgium, France, Qatar) are about Muslims, Jews, the Orthodox and marginalised people, who are buried in Brussels—in a unique cemetery.
- 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 – Feature Narrative – Picture Lock
- Mediterranean Fever by Maha Haj (Palestine, France, Qatar, Germany, Cyprus) is about an aspiring but depressed writer from Haifa, who befriends his new neighbour in an attempt to convince the man to help him commit suicide.
- The Dam (pictured above) by Ali Cherri (Lebanon, France, Serbia, Sudan, Qatar) Every evening, Maher, a traditional brickyard worker by the Merowe Dam on the Nile, secretly erects a mysterious mud construction. A political fable about the power of imagination on the backdrop of the Sudanese revolution.
- The Last Queen by Damien Ounouri (Algeria, France, Qatar) is set in Algiers, at the beginning of the 16th century. After the death of her husband, a queen must stand up to the most fearsome pirate.
- The Return by Meyar Al-Roumi (Syria, France, Germany, Qatar) tells the story of Taysir, who returns to Syria to move the remains of his younger brother Kamal from the suburbs of Damascus where he was shot as a freedom fighter.
- Autobiography by Makbul Mubarak (Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Poland, Germany, France, Qatar) is about a timid housekeeper, who diligently obeys his master until a seemingly minor affront sets in motion a violent chain of events.
- Domingo and the Mist by Ariel Escalante Meza (Costa Rica, Qatar) is about Domingo, whose house is due to be expropriated to make way for the construction of a highway. But his land hides a secret—the ghost of his deceased wife visits him within the mist.
Post-Production – Feature Narrative – Work-in-progress
- The Wind Blew On by Katrín Ólafsdóttir (Iceland, Qatar, Chile, Spain) in which a boy says to himself, ‘Perhaps, I’m already dead.’ But these words are spoken in an unsettling world where no one can confirm this to be true or false for him.
- Backstage by Afef Ben Mahmoud and Khalil Benkirane (Tunisia, Morocco, France, Belgium, Norway, Qatar) A stage injury during a spectacle 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.
Post-Production - Documentary – Work-in-progress
- A Fidai Film by Kamal Aljafari (Palestine, Germany, Qatar) is a sabotage film in response to the looting of memories.
- Concrete Land by Asmahan Bkerat (Jordan, Qatar) is an intimate look at the lives of a nomadic Bedouin family in its struggle to hold on to their traditional life under the pressures of urbanisation.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Tokyo Reel by Mohanad Yaqubi (Palestine, Belgium, Qatar) is an open invitation to discover the restored digital scan of a lost 16 mm film reel found in the outskirts of Tokyo.
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.
- Green Line by Sylvie Ballyot (France, Qatar) depicts the story of Fida, who decides to meet the fighters who frightened her as a child.
- Khmerica by Antoine Guide (France, Cambodia, Qatar) is about Sokha, a 36-year-old Khmerican returnee, through the film we explore some pieces of his shattered personal history and dive into the meanders of his exile.
- While We Watched by Vinay Shukla (India, Qatar) is a raw and timely film that offers an intimate portrait of the frontlines of truth in India.
- Under This Roof by Areej Mahmoud (Lebanon, Qatar) is about a frail, yet strong willed, seventy-year-old woman who tries to assassinate a presidential candidate and fails.
- Out of My Mind by Mo Yusuf (Somalia, UAE, Qatar) is about a struggling Somali writer living in Dubai, who decides to become a stand-up comedian.
- Why Did The Bluesman Cross The Road by Meedo Taha (Lebanon, USA, Qatar) depicts a pair of Latin-Arab mechanics and their boss’s daughter, who escape the garage in search of freedom, love, and music.
- Day Off by Lina Lamara (Algeria, France) "It’s the weekend o’clock! Madani, Amina, Soukaina, Pierre, Atef, and Noor take us on their typical rest day. From Paris to Doha, via Casablanca, the day off is the one we prefer. Could it be longer?”
- Yasmine/Jasmine by Yossera Bouchtia (Morocco) after her mother's sudden and mysterious death, a grieving daughter starts to contend with haunting visitations from her doppelganger.
- 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.
And the 2022 Qumra shorts are:
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 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.
- Manity by Hussen Ibraheem (Lebanon, France, Qatar), The sound of a key opening the Biton family’s door is haunting young Edina at night. But when all the family starts experiencing this nightmare, panic sets in. Will Dr. Naftali be able to explain this strange phenomenon?
Short Narrative – Post-Production – Picture Lock
- The Key by Rakan Mayasi (Palestine, Belgium, Qatar, France), On his first bird-hunting trip, a coming-of-age boy defies his oppressing father’s logic on the conception of manhood.
- 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.
For all information about the Doha Film Institute, check out their website.