Mexican actor joins lists of ‘masters’ for DFI’s inaugural Qumra event, which will see 31 projects from 29 countries involved.

What Comes Around

Mexican actor, director and producer Gael Garcia Bernal has joined the list of ‘masters’ for the Doha Film Institute’s inaugural Qumra event, running March 6-11.

The masters previously reported in December are Abderrahmane Sissako, Leila Hatami Cristian Mungiu and Danis Tanović. “They represent different regions and different types of cinema, they all have mastered their craft,” DFI CEO Fatma Al Remaihi told Screen. “But they are also all passionate to share their experience to help the next generation.”

DFI has announced the 31 projects from 29 countries selected for Qumra, including 23 narrative features, four feature documentaries and four short films. There are 22 projects who are supported by DFI and a further nine from Qatari independent filmmakers.

A total of 19 of the projects are in development with the rest in post production.

The 31 projects (full list below) include the story of women gathering in a Gaza hair salon, a poetic teenage-coming of age film, the tale of two brothers caught in a violent Istanbul, and a documentary about a New York-based Egyptian imam who becomes embroiled in a scandal.

Qumra, more of an industry event than a traditional festival, aims to support first- and second-time filmmakers. “There’s no worry about red carpet or competition, people can be relaxed in an atmosphere of creativity,” said Al Remaihi.

Khalil Benkirane, head of grants at the Doha Film Institute, added, “A platform like this is the best present we can offer a director to get them to the next level. After granting so many films over the years we’ve learned it’s not enough just to support financially, it’s about supporting the project and the filmmakers.”

The filmmaking teams will attend masterclasses, screenings and Q&As, and tailored one-on-one meetings with attending global industry experts (including festival programmers, sales companies and distributors). There will also be script consultations, pitching sessions, and works in progress screenings. Industry attendees already confirmed include Cameron Bailey from Toronto, Roberto Olla from Eurimages and Vincent Maraval from Wild Bunch.

Filmmaker Elia Suleiman serves as artistic advisor and he said of Qumra, “It’s the personal and professional merging in a perfect manner… it’s being in a crew where you are collectively producing hope.”

This is the second major event that DFI organizes, after the Ajyal youth-oriented film festival each November. Al Remaihi said that the timing was right for the new event after the DFI has been supporting more than 200 films over the last five years. “This will complement everything we do year round,” she said.

The level of Qatari filmmaking involvement in Qumra is notable. Al Remaihi added, “Everything we’ve done with festivals, workshops, educational programmes, has all helped shaped this emerging industry in Qatar. We’re excited by the number of projects we have. There is the hunger and desire to [for Qataris] to tell their own stories. And then to connect internationally.”

The DFI also opens submissions next week for its new Qatari Film Fund.

The 2015 Qumra Projects

(film descriptions provided by DFI)


Go Home by Jihane Chouaib

(Lebanon, France, Qatar)

The story of a young woman searching for the truth and discovering herself.

Mountain by João Salaviza

(Portugal, France, Qatar)

A visually intense, poetic coming-of-age film in which 14-year-old David is forced to become the man of the house while his grandfather lives out his last days in hospital.

The Garbage Helicopter by Jonas Selberg Augustsén

(Sweden, Qatar)

Three young adults on a journey. Their goal: to return an old wall clock to their grandmother. A story about a minor mission that becomes a major journey.

The Wounded Angel by Emir Baigazin

(Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Germany, Qatar)

Four loosely connected tales about “fallen angels” - teenagers - unintelligible, at times irrational, and inadequate in experience - that expose ordinary and complicated souls on the path of destiny.


Blessed Benefit by Mahmoud Al Massad

(Jordan, The Netherlands, Germany, UAE, Qatar)

If the fish hadn’t opened its mouth, it never would have been caught.

By the Time it Gets Dark by Anocha Suwichakornpong

(Thailand, France, Qatar)

Secondhand memories, a film and a very blue mushroom.

Dégradé by Arab & Tarzan Abunasser

(France, Palestine, Jordan, Qatar)

Gaza, nowadays. Twelve women are stuck in a hair salon for a whole afternoon, witnessing a violent confrontation taking place across the street.

Frenzy by Emin Alper

(Turkey, Germany, France, Qatar)

Istanbul is in political chaos. Armed groups have taken control of the shantytowns. The police response is brutal. In the midst of this, two brothers are drawn into the violence.


Asphalt by Ali Hammoud

(Libya, Egypt, Qatar, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan)

‘Asphalt’ is a travelogue about two Arab truckers on the road set against the fragile region they cross, and a poetic and realistic journey into their daily existence.

Holy Cow by Imamaddin Hasanov

(Azerbaijan, Germany, Romania Qatar)

One man’s dream of bringing a European cow to his picturesque hometown in Azerbaijan unsettles the village’s conservative community, who want to keep their traditions intact.

Salaam Plenty by Yasmine Kassari

(Morocco, Australia, Belgium, Qatar)

One of the earliest case studies of the movements of the Afghan Diaspora, this is a surprising example of a foray by Muslim men from the remote nomadic regions of Asia into the heart of a 19th-century British colony. This emigration created a ripple effect that continues to this day.

What Comes Around by Reem Saleh

(Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar)

In one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Cairo, hope still finds ways to resonate among the people.


A Reverence for Spiders by Faiza Ambah

(Saudi Arabia, USA, France, Qatar)

A New York-based Egyptian imam helps a dying Christian teenager convert to Islam, only to be plunged into a political scandal that threatens his job, his faith and his relationship with his daughters.

Beretta by Sophia Al-Maria

(Egypt, USA, Qatar)

‘Beretta’ follows Suad, a mute young woman who, over the course of the story, is transformed from an obedient, subdued woman into a vengeful killer.

Beyond by Nora Al Subai


The daughter of a conservative tribe leader burns with curiosity and hungers for freedom. When she embarks on a journey in search of the new world beyond the horizon, she is forced to question just how far and how much she is willing to sacrifice.

In Search of Adam by Ahmed Ibrahim Al Baker


Earth is dying. One man has been sent to coordinates where he hopes to find humanity’s salvation, but while on the mission he uncovers something that unhinges his entire existence. Now alone, he is left to decide the fate of our planet.

Little River by Shaikha Al Thani


A call to prayer in Mecca, a secret deal, a city’s development against the backdrop of a lie, a river wish made by two sisters recovering from a state of exile in their father’s name.

Madmen’s Fort by Narimane Mari

(Algeria, France, Qatar)

Desires and greed lurk like raptors, preparing to transform a utopian dream into tragedy.

Marjoun and the Flying Headscarf by Susan Youssef

(Lebanon, The Netherlands, USA, Qatar)

With her father imprisoned on dubious terrorism-related charges, a Lebanese-American teenager in Arkansas searches for her identity in the headscarf and a motorcycle.

Me Myself and Murdoch by Yahya Alabdallah

(Jordan, Palestine, France, Qatar)

After an automobile accident, a young Palestinian wakes up with total amnesia – and finds he can speak only Hebrew.

Men in the Sun by Mahdi Fleifel

(Palestine, Greece, United Kingdom, Denmark, Qatar)

Three young Palestinian refugees dream of escape from Athens after seven years of living in a country in crisis. Their carefully laid plans are ruined when they are conned by a people smuggler and the friends must use their wits to get their money back. When they finally have their revenge, they are faced with the choice of sticking together or a new beginning.

Parijat by Hend Fakhroo


A Qatari woman from a dissected family has moved and settled in London. When she’s unexpectedly appointed head of her family’s struggling perfume business, she rises to the challenge of saving the company and mending her broken past.

Sahaab by Khalifa Muraikhi


When Nasser and his friends are lost in the desert, struggling to retrieve their falcon, their search turns out to be a deadly journey.

Scales by Shahad Ameen

(Saudi Arabia, Qatar)

Thirteen-year-old Hayat was almost sacrificed to become a mermaid by her father when she was an infant. Now she faces the same problem once again because of her newborn brother.

Superpower by Mohammed Al Mahmeed


The members of a dysfunctional family question faith, try to find happiness and realise their dreams when confronted with the illness of a son.

The Taste of Apples Is Red by Ehab Tarabieh

(Syria, USA, Palestine, Qatar)

Everything in Syria is becoming more difficult. In the village on the other side of the border, the cold is unbearable this year, and two elderly brothers are looking to redeem themselves and each other.

Wooden Rifle by Alfouz Tanjour

(Lebanon, Syria, Qatar)

During the Syrian revolution, a 21-year-old youth tries to escape with to Europe with his mother to join his father. Things take a different direction when their boat capsizes in the sea and his mother dies. When his father sinks into a coma after a fight over his dirty work, the boy is obliged to care for the older man.


Bou Ejaila by Saeed Al-Mennai (Qatar)

After Afra is assaulted, she tries to explain herself to her uncaring family.

Green Eyes by Abdulla Al Mulla (Qatar)

The tireless struggle of a coma patient in the ocean depths of his reality, as he faces off against his own ego and the mysterious monster that lives within.

Our Time Is Running Out by Meriem Mesraoua (Qatar)

Children cherish one rule: simplicity. But what happens when they start to grow up? A pragmatic teenager doubts the logic of his world, finding himself on the verge of enlightenment.

Pizza O Bass by Mohammed Al Ibrahim (Qatar)

The story of a pizza delivery guy and his three deliveries on New Year’s Eve in Qatar.