Qatar launches Doha Film Institute to build sustainable film industry

May 16, 2010

Qatar has launched the Doha Film Institute (DFI), an establishment seeking to build a sustainable film industry in Qatar with strong links to the international film community.

“Films can do more than just entertain. They can educate, inspire and unite communities and we want to nurture and support filmmakers as we continue to grow Qatar as a cultural hub for film,” Shaikha Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, DFI founder and board chairwoman, said.

The institute was launched at the Cannes International Film Festival amid promises that it would expand the scope of Qatar’s international film ambitions.

DFI will be dedicated to film appreciation, education, financing, production and building a long-term sustainable film industry in Qatar. Plans include cultural partnerships with Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation, Mira Nair’s Maisha Film Lab, and New York’s Tribeca Enterprises.

World Cinema Foundation has signed a three-year cultural partnership with DFI to restore and preserve international films of cultural significance. One of the movies the foundation has restored is the 1969 film The Mummy (Al Momia) by Shadi Abdel Salam. The film was screened during DTFF 2009.

“DFI’s goals — to educate, to create awareness of cinema, to build a community of filmmakers within the region, to keep cinema’s past alive in order to ensure its future — align with our own. Hence the partnership,” said Scorsese.

DFI has also extended a partnership with Nair’s Maisha Film Lab to allow Qatari residents to take part in a cross-cultural exchange with filmmakers and students from East Africa and South Asia to access professional training and production resources.

Qatar-based participants will this year vie for up to four posts for an intensive 25-day course to be held in Kampala, Uganda, from July 25 to August 16.

DFI’s year-round education programme has been developed locally to support Doha’s growth as an international cultural hub. It includes the continuation of the “One Minute Films” programme launched in 2009 with Oscar-nominated filmmaker Scandar Copti and the establishment of more international filmmaking labs in Doha in collaboration with Geoff Gilmore, Chief Creative Officer, Tribeca Enterprises.

In addition to its cultural and educational commitment to films in the region, DFI said that it would allocate “significant funds” for film financing and co-production activity in Qatar with the goal of investing in 10 new Arab films a year.

“The new organisation reflects the core belief of Qatar to put education and a cultural commitment to film at the heart of its activity and lays a foundation for the future,” Amanda Palmer, DFI executive director, said. “DFI looks forward to inviting local and international filmmakers to get to know the organisation and better access the cultural, educational and financial support DFI has to offer,” she said.



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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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