Get ready to watch some great cinema as ten films supported by the Doha Film Institute are included in this year's line-up at the upcoming 78th Venice Film Festival. This happens to be one of the largest selections of films funded by DFI to be shown at the festival, surpassing even the nine DFI-supported titles in this year's Cannes Film Festival, which took place this past July.
But DFI-supported doesn't just mean films from the MENA region. In fact, competing in the festival’s Orizzonti segment are three international DFI supported films: Atlantide (Italy, France, Qatar) by Italian-born director and artist Yuri Ancarani, which was a 2020 Spring Grants recipient and follows three young men who find an interest in small fast boats and end up driving the audience through a summer of dreams and nightmares; Kavich Neang’s debut film, also a 2020 Spring Grants recipient titled White Building (Cambodia, France, China, Qatar) which explores the life-changing moments of a young man from Phnom Penh, from the demolition of his lifelong home to societal pressures; and 2020 Fall Grant recipient Kiro Russo’s El Gran Movimiento (Bolivia, France, Switzerland, Qatar) which is set in contemporary Bolivia and follows Elder and his companions as they arrive in La Paz after a seven-day walk, seeking to be reinstated at the local mine.
Of course, DFI’s track-record of showcasing Arab talent to an international audience continues as Shaima Al Tamimi makes history as the director of the first Yemeni film Don't Get Too Comfortable (Yemen, UAE, USA, Netherlands, Qatar) selected for competition at an international film event. It is included in the Orizzonti Shorts Film Competition and the film was a 2020 Fall Grant recipient. The film contemplates the continuous pattern of movement amongst Yemenis in the diaspora and highlights the collective feeling of statelessness and belonging by migrants through introspective letters written to Al Tamimi's grandfather.
"The selection includes thought-provoking works by new voices in global cinema and established names that offer fresh perspectives on life that reflect human hopes, aspirations and challenges.” -- Fatma Alremaihi
Included in the festival’s new sidebar programme, Orizzonti Extra are two DFI backed projects including the section's opening film Land of Dreams (USA, Germany, Qatar) by Iranian artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari. Co-financed by DFI, the film is a political satire set in the near future where America has closed its borders and become more insular than ever. Also the highly anticipated 2018 Fall Grants recipient Costa Brava (Lebanon, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Qatar) by Mounia Akl which follows the free-spirited Badri family who have escaped the toxic pollution of Beirut by seeking refuge in the utopic mountain home they have built. However, when the government opens a landfill just over their fence, everything they escaped from catches up with them. The film features two superstars of world cinema, Saleh Bakri and Nadine Labaki (pictured above).
Diana El Jeiroudi’s Republic of Silence (Syria, Germany, France, Qatar), a 2016 Fall Grants recipient, premieres in Out of Competition. The feature documentary presents a first-person account of El Jeiroudi’s journey from Syria to Berlin, exploring how cinema saved her life.
Syrian screenwriter, director and 2019 Spring Grants recipient, Ameer Fakher Eldin, competes in Giornate Degli Autori, an independent sidebar at the festival with Al Garib (The Stranger) (Syria, Qatar) that follows Adnan, a young man returning home against the will of his father after unsuccessfully studying medicine in the former Soviet Union. The film stars Ashraf Barhoum and Mohammad Bakri who are always mesmerising to watch on the big screen.
Rounding up the selection are two DFI supported films which have been selected for the Final Cut, a Venice Production Bridge initiative that supports projects from Africa and the Arab world: Under The Fig Trees (Tunisia, Switzerland, Qatar, France) by 2021 Spring Grants 2021 recipient Erige Sehiri is about three female friends on the threshold of an adult life who work in fruit orchards to pay for their studies, prepare for their wedding and help their families; while The Mother of All Lies (Morocco, France, Qatar) is by 2019 Spring Grants recipient Asmae El Moudir. The documentary follows El Moudir’s personal journey to learn more about her childhood, as she begins to unfolds the secrets of Morocco to tell a story of the 1981 “bread riots”, thus exploring how these events reflect in Moroccan society today.
Fatma Hassan Alremaihi, Chief Executive Officer of DFI, said: “We are incredibly proud to showcase ten films backed by DFI at the Venice Film Festival this year, underlining our commitment to support emerging Arab talent and filmmakers from across the globe. The selection includes thought-provoking works by new voices in global cinema and established names that offer fresh perspectives on life that reflect human hopes, aspirations and challenges.”
“Our funding programmes are dedicated to supporting emerging talent, captivating storytelling and unique narrative styles, and there is no doubt that these films are among the most anticipated projects to emerge this year from the region and beyond. Their Venice debut will mark the beginning of an exciting journey for all these films, and I congratulate the teams behind them on their inclusion at this prestigious festival.”