Qatar aims to change view of Arab world through cinema

DOHA, Qatar

The head of the Doha Film Institute said that the Arab region has been misrepresented for many years, and the institute aims to change that perspective through cinema.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency on Thursday, Fatma Al Remaihi said the institute’s main objective is to support and connect the region’s filmmakers to the rest of the world.

“The institute’s main mission is to support filmmakers from the Arab region to tell their stories to the world. With a region that has been misrepresented for so many years, this is the time we can do something about it and to change this perspective.

“Every program we do — whether it’s an event, education, festival, exhibition, funding and all other different elements that we do — is about empowering the filmmakers to tell their stories. Also to help them take their stories out from the region to the different audiences,” said Remaihi.

She said the Doha Film Institute only acts as a jury to pick the right stories.

“We do not own any of the films that we support. They are all owned by the filmmakers. We do not control the content. We just choose the beautiful stories that come from the region, whether they are comedies, tragedies. We choose good stories and provide support to them.”

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the institute’s foundation, Remaihi said they are already satisfied with the results.

“Now after 10 years, we see the results. We see a lot of these films screened at many festivals winning many, many awards across the world,” she said.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s capital Doha is hosting the seventh Ajyal Film Festival presented by the Doha Film Institute.

With the theme “Find Film, Find Life,” some 96 films from 39 countries are being shown at the international festival, which began on Nov. 18 and runs until Nov. 24.

“The festival we do is very original and unique in the region. There is no other festival like ours in the region to give youth the power to decide which films they see are better. Because we believe that we have to start from a very young age, as we are a very young industry in Qatar. We have to start from a very young age to be sustainable in the future,” said Remaihi.

Remaihi said that both the institute and the Ajyal Film Festival have hosted many outstanding names from the Turkish film industry.

“We had a lot of actors from Turkey. We work with a lot of Turkish filmmakers and Turkish films such as the film ‘Mustang’ and the director Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Ceylan did a masterclass. We worked with him in his film. We have a lot of guys from Turkey and our programs are open for everyone in the region, whether they are first- or second-time filmmakers or also established filmmakers.”

The Doha Film Institute serves as an all-encompassing film hub in Doha as well as a resource for the region and the rest of the world.

The institute carries out its projects under a motto which reflects the sentiment that “Film is Life”.
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