Magazine article Screen International

Doha Supports Upcoming Films by Mounia Akl, Scandar Copti and Bassel Ghandour

Magazine article Screen International

Doha Supports Upcoming Films by Mounia Akl, Scandar Copti and Bassel Ghandour

Article excerpt

Qatar gives grants to TV and two web series for the first time.

The Doha Film Institute (DFI) has announced the latest round of 38 projects to be supported under its autumn 2018 grants cycle.

Among the grantees is Lebanese filmmaker Mounia Akl who won DFI funding for her upcoming film Costa Brava Lebanon about a family whose idyllic mountain retreat home is blighted when the government decides to build a landfill by their home. It was one of seven projects hailing from Lebanon.

Other grantees included Palestinian director Laila Abbas’s comedy-drama Barzakh about two sisters who hide their father’s death in order to enjoy their sizeable inheritance rather than handing it over to their brother as sexist local laws dictate.

Other projects from Palestine include Scandar Copti’s Happy Holidays about a Palestinian student whose involvement in a minor incident in Jerusalem sets off a series of events that will reveal her double life as well as those of her family.

There was a strong showing for Palestine in the funding cycle with six projects from the territory selected for funding.

From other territories, Jordan’s Bassel Ghandour has also picked up a grant for his directorial debut The Alleys, a social mosaic picture set against the backdrop of a gossipy, claustrophobic neighbourhood in the Jordanian capital of Amman.

Ghandour co-wrote Naji Abu Nowar’s award-winning 2014 drama Theeb (2014), which was also backed by the DFI.

The selection also included projects from Mexico, Lesotho and Russia for the first time as well as from awarded Afghanistan, Algeria, Bolivia, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Serbia, Sudan and Tunisia

“By elevating original voices in cinema, promoting creative interaction and providing creative support throughout the filmmaking cycle, we intend to establish a robust film ecosystem in the Arab world,” said DFI CEO Fatma Hassan Alremaihi.

For the first time, the institute also supported two web series and two TV series.

These include Mohamed Berro’s drama TCA168: The Tarmac Year, about two cousins who hijack a plane and fly it to Strovia, a fictitious Arab-Soviet satellite island state in the Mediterranean, where negotiations get entangled in Cold War politics.

“This year’s expansion of the programme to include TV and web series acknowledges the importance of embracing new platforms and models,” said Alremaihi.

The institute noted that this round included three projects by Qatari filmmakers, including Hamida Issa’s experimental work To The Ends Of The Earthis about a Qatari woman, who travels on an environmental expedition to Antarctica. There was also near gender parity in the selection with 18 female filmmakers.

The DFI received a record 467 applications for the autumn funding round, including 150 applications for projects originating from outside the Middle East and North Africa.

The grantees (synopses provided by the DFI):

DEVELOPMENT STAGE:

Feature Narrative

· Beirut 1931(Palestine, Qatar)by Kamal Aljafari about “K”, who arrives in his native Jaffa after the sudden passing of his uncle, and attempts to unravel the cause of his mysterious death.

· In Vitro(Palestine, Switzerland, France, Denmark, Qatar), the first featurebyLarissa Sansour, which is set after an eco-apocalypse, and the dying founder of a vast underground orchard passes on instructions to her younger successor who was born underground. Larissa was earlier granted by DFI for her short film, In the Future, They Ate from the Finest Porcelain (2015). …

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