DFI CEO: New golden age for Arabic cinema

 28 Feb 2016 - 1:36

DFI CEO: New golden age for Arabic cinema
Fatma Al Remaihi, CEO, DFI, addressing a media roundtable at DFI building at Katara. Pic:  Baher / The Peninsula

 

By Raynald C Rivera 
DOHA: The increasing number of Doha Film Institute (DFI)-backed films gaining global recognition has placed Qatar on the map as a major hub in the creative industry and marks a ‘new golden age for Arabic cinema’.

“DFI’s journey started not very long ago but we are seeing the results now with many DFI-supported films and Arab filmmakers taking to the international scene. 
“Powerful stories from the Arab world backed by the DFI are receiving global acclaim, a testament to DFI’s founding principle to nurture the next generation of regional talent and it marks a new golden age of Arab cinema,” said Fatma Al Remaihi, CEO, DFI.
Al Remaihi was speaking to the local media ahead of the 88th Academy Awards in which two of the five nominees for Best Foreign Language Film award were supported by DFI — Theeb and Mustang.
In addition, DFI grant recipient Basil Khalil has won nomination in the Live Action Short Film Category for his film Ave Maria competing against 144 films from across the globe.
This is the second consecutive year DFI-backed films have made it to the Oscars.  Last year Timbuktu directed by Abderrahmane Sissako, a Qumra master, was nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category. 
Timbuktu competed this year at British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and won seven Caesars last year.
Theeb got nominated in BAFTA for ‘Best Film Not in the English Language’ and its director Abu Nowar and producer Robert Lloyd won ‘Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer’, making it the first Arab film to win this achievement.
Mustang by Deniz Gamze Erguven won top honours at Palm Springs, Cannes, Chicago and Stockholm Film Festivals, among others, and  received nine nominations at the 2016 French Caesars. 
Three DFI-supported films made it to the 2016 Rotterdam International Film Festival — Mountain; The Last Land; and The Garbage Helicopter which is being shown in over 40 screens in Europe and Canada. 
At the recent 2016 Berlin International Film Festival, six DFI backed titles screened in the official festival sections. City of Jade; The Black Frost; The Wounded Angel; Blue Bicycle; and Hedi had their world premieres in the festival’s sections of Forum, Panorama, Generation KPlus and the main competition.
Hedi, the first Arab contender in 20 years in the official competition, won Best First Feature Award for Director Ben Attia and the Silver Bear for Best Actor. 
Past grant recipient Mahdi Fleifel’s latest short A Man Returned won the Silver Bear Jury Prize in the Short Film competition and received direct nomination to the 2016 European Film Awards.
Janitou by Mohamed El Amine Hattou was shortlisted for the Robert Bosch pitch and 2016 Ajyal crowd pleaser Very Big Shot had two market screenings for global sales agents and distributors.
“It’s a matter of pride to go to these big festivals, flip the industry books and see Qatar’s name in many of these produced films as a co-production country. 
“This was not the case a few years back. This is happening because of the support DFI is giving,” Al Remaihi said, adding global recognition for these films serves as inspiration for emerging filmmakers to develop world-class cinema. 
“We will continue to foster a culture of appreciation for artistic cinema that challenges the stereotypes of mainstream films, identify new talents, support their projects and deliver them strong platforms for reaching out to the international community through our year-round educational, financing and training initiatives,” she added. 

The Peninsula