The inaugural Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF) will open in Qatar on October 29 with a special screening of Mira Nair’s Amelia Earhart biopic Amelia starring Hilary Swank and Richard Gere.
Announcing an eclectic line-up that includes a dozen films with roots in the Middle East as well as familiar Western titles such as Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant!, Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story, and Jane Campion’s Bright Star, executive director Amanda Palmer said she and her team assembled the programme with local audiences “at the forefront of our minds.”
Palmer added that many of the film-makers would be in attendance and expressed confidence this would “help us take cinema appreciation to a new level” in the Middle Eastern country. Some of the film-makers will take part in workshops and classes. The DTFF will run from October 29-November 1.
“This has been a real collaboration from the beginning,” Tribeca Enterprises chief creative officer Geoff Gilmore said. “The idea was to do a festival that was about quality that would resonate with the principles on which this festival was founded. It was founded to be not so much about red carpets and celebrities but to showcase work that helps to build a culture and an industry, ultimately.
“The way to do that is to programme a breadth of work that represents the full range of what independent international film-making is and to highlight work from the Arab world. A new generation is emerging that promises to make its mark with good work. I feel good about what I ‘m seeing from the region; it reminds me of how I felt about Asian cinema 20 years ago.
“There’s this cutting edge of Palestinian film-makers that is very impressive. There’s something that speaks to a generational change,” Gilmore said, pointing out Najwa Najjar’s love triangle Pomegranates And Myrrh and Cairo Time from Canada-based Ruba Nadda.
He added that early exploratory talks were taking place to establish some form of international distribution network and educational initiatives, but declined to comment further.
The programme features the world premiere of Thamer Al Zedi’s animated family tale Assila (Hungary, UAE, Lebanon, Egypt) and the international premiere of Spike Lee’s basketball documentary Kobe Doin’ Work from the US.
There are Middle Eastern premieres for: Oliver Stone’s profile of Venezuela President Hugo Chavez in South Of The Border (USA); Joel and Ethan Coen’s US comedy A Serious Man; Jane Campion’s account of the romance between John Keats and Fanny Brawne in Bright Star (UK/Australia); Ruba Nadda’s romance Cairo Time (Canada/Ireland); Liz Mermin’s profile of the Qatari national debate team in Team Qatar (UK); Nick Stringer’s nature documentary Turtle: An Incredible Journey (UK/Austria/Germany); Cary Joji Fukunaga’s drama Sin Nombre (USA/Mexico); Warwick Thornton’s Australian romance Samson And Delilah; and Dev Benegal’s India-set Road, Movie (India/USA).
Further Middle Eastern premieres include: Anne Fontaine’s Coco Chanel biopic Coco Before Chanel(France); Lone Scherfig’s coming-of-age drama An Education (UK); Shana Feste’s family drama The Greatest (USA); Daniel Barber’s vigilante drama Harry Brown (UK); Marshall Curry’s US go-karting documentary Racing Dreams; and Beadie Finzi’s documentary about aspiring ballet dancers from the Brazilian favelas, Only When I Dance (Brazil/UK); Rachid Bouchareb’s drama London River (UK/France/Algeria); and John Maringouin’s documentary Big River Man(USA/UK), about an overweight man’s bid to swim down the Amazon.
Receiving Qatar premieres are: Najwa Najjar’s Palestinian love triangle Pomegranates and Myrrh (Al Mor Wa Al Rumman); Michael Moore’s latest documentary Capitalism: A Love Story (USA); Steven Soderbergh’s whistleblower caper The Informant! (USA); A restoration of The Mummy (Al-Momia), Shadi Abdel Salam’s 1969 inquiry into mortality and morality (Egypt); Bahman Ghobadi’s documentary about Tehran’s underground music scene, No One Knows About Persian Cats (Kasi Az Gorbehaye Irani Khabar Nadareh) (Iran); Kamla Abu Zekry’s Egyptian football-related drama One-Zero (Wahed-Sefr); and Elia Suleiman’s family drama The Time That Remains (UK/Italy/Belgium/France).
The remaining Qatar premieres announced thus far are: Yousry Nasrallah’s Egyptian documentary about the plight of women in Cairo, Scheherazade: Tell Me A Story (Ehky Ya Scheherazade); John Woo’s historical epic Red Cliff (China/Japan/South Korea/Taiwan/USA); Raja Amari’s drama Buried Secrets (Dowaha) (Tunisia/Switzerland/France); Asghar Farhadi’s Iranian mystery About Elly (Darbareye Elly); R J Cutler’s Anna Wintour documentary The September Issue(USA); and Mohamed Al-Daradji’s tale of an Iraqi woman’s quest to find her mother in Son Of Babylon (Ibn Babil) (Iraq/UK/Netherlands/France/Palestine/UAE/Qatar).
DTFF was founded through a long-term partnership between the Qatar Museums Authority and Tribeca Enterprises. Festival activities will be centred at the I.M. Pei-designed Museum Of Islamic Art and open-air screenings around the city will include a screening at the Souq Waqif bazaar of The Mummy (Al-Momia) presented by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation.
Festival organisers also announced that 31 of the 33 films in the line-up will be eligible for two audience-based awards, each carrying unrestricted cash prizes amounting to $50,000.
Winners will be announced at DTFF’s closing night ceremony on November 1, when organisers plan to unveil a screenplay development and film-maker grant programme.