Merging local culture and international cinema. Read more…

The cinema has an irresistible magic. It takes you far away; immersing you into a different world and transporting you across time into a realm of imagination. It can also embody your present reality, etching it forever in history's retention. But whatever genre the film is set in, it’s main purpose is to send a message wrapped in the threads of entertainment, which the producing team weaves and conveys to the world.

After the first Khaleeji motion picture the Kuwaiti film "Bas Ya Bahar" was shown in 1972, the region started thirsting for more. For the Khaleeji region has been an avid consumer of all cinematic products, from DVDs to multiplex cinemas that play the latest Hollywood productions. But, until when will we keep receiving and importing cinematic productions?

Khaleeji states have the capability to enter this industry that generates hundreds of millions of dollars, and since we possess the manpower and the physical energy, as well as the artistic sense and cinematic appreciation, when will the breakthrough take place? We have started seeing modest attempts from talented individuals, but they lack the experience and broad support.

Recently we have started seeing film festivals springing up in the region that seem to flag a certain coming of age to our lacking Film sector. Among them are the Dubai Film Festival and the Middle East Film Festival (Abu Dhabi); by far the largest on the organizational and publicity level.

Qatar on the other hand has had a different approach with its Film Festival. It preferred merging local culture with international cinema and disseminating regional artistic awareness of the movies, instead of focusing on the entertainment aspect of films. So the Doha TriBeCa Film Festival was formed.

The festival-taking place in its inaugural year will start on October 29th until November 1st and is a partnership between the Qatar Museums Authority and the TriBeCa Film Festival – New York. The latter was founded in 2002 through the efforts of the veteran star Robert De Niro and the couple team of producers Jane Rosenthal and real estate investor Craig Hatkoff. After the events of September 11th in New York and the great number of victims who fell in the TriBeCa area of Lower Manhattan, the three founders conceived the honoring of New York with the launching of this festival in order to invigorate the city's economy, to restore the neighborhood's vitality and for it to be an educational center bringing together cinema industry talents as well as connecting New York with filmmakers all over the world. Hence Qatar was chosen to host this marvelous festival, and a publicity campaign was launched last August under the slogan "Film is Life"; making it the talk of the town here in Doha.

Leading the festival is Executive Director Amanda Palmer who joined Al Jazeera English Channel in 2005 to become its Head of Entertainment. Her fingerprint can be found in the production of the most important educational and artistic programs on the network. In the DTFF team, we find great diversity in the sense that team members hail from various nationalities, and are talented individuals who possess CVs brimming with international awards and accomplishments.

The diffusion of cinematographic awareness in Qatari society and its integration in the filmmaking industry were of the most important reasons for the partnership between Qatar and the TriBeCa Film Festival. So two months ago the invitation was extended to the Qatari youths for their integration in this industry and for their production of short films delving in local realities. And in fact, these segments were produced, written, directed and sometimes performed by the youths themselves. A special exhibit was held to which the members of the press were invited and the idea of the film was discussed. A competition for the best photographs depicting Qatari society, and acting workshops were also organized as entertaining events to attract the Qatari community to this film festival.

But all of that is not limited to the festival's event timeline. Indeed, educational and entertainment workshops are held throughout the year. There are also financial grants being awarded to the talented in order to help them put their creativity into production and presenting it to the public. The aim is to fulfill Qatar's future vision and to create a bridge promoting art and creativity between East and West.

During the time of the event 33 films among the finest international cinema productions will be shown; some are handcrafted by master directors from diverse origins and cultural backgrounds who will have their Middle East premieres here in Doha, and others are produced by upcoming directors looking for the Doha festival to be their launching pad for future success. It is where films participate with their diversity and cultural richness, and where a series of issues covering the interests of a wide audience will be presented.
The film genres vary from the documentary, such as "Capitalism: A Love Story" by the controversial Michael Moore, and "The September Issue" which gives us a behind the scenes look at American Vogue Magazine's  Editor Anna Wintour, to the biographical genre, such as "Amelia" from the director Mira Nair which stars the Oscar winner Hilary Swank, and "Coco Avant Chanel" which depicts the life of fashion icon Coco Chanel, to the Middle Eastern Films, such as "Al Mor wa Al Rumman" by Najwa Najjar, and to drama in the love story "Samson and Delilah" by the Australian director Warwick Thornton, and "An Education" by Lone Scherfig, to name but a few. It is worth mentioning that 12 of the participating films are either from or deal with the Middle East from some point of view.

As for captivating ambience, the Museum of Islamic Art will be the main exhibition venue for the festival. In addition, some films will be shown in open air at the architectural masterpiece "Souk Waqif," and in various hotels and movie theaters spread throughout Doha. It will not be a competitive festival this year, but cash prizes will be awarded to films that are voted for by the audience.

In context, the Doha TriBeCa Film Festival is an invitation to every filmmaker who wants to present his creativity to the world, to every film enthusiast that wants to share and experience the magic of the Cinema.

For more information about the festival, visit dohatribecafilm.com http://www.dohatribecafilm.com/ or alternatively you can follow them on twitter http://twitter.com/dohatff .

– Fahad Al-Maawda. Images: DTFF http://www.dohatribecafilm.com/

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