The Doha Film Institute’s new Qumra event kicks off today in Doha, with a focus on mentoring emerging filmmakers.

The programme includes industry-focused masterclasses from Gael Garcia Bernal, Cristian Mungiu, Abderrahamane Sissako, Danis Tanovic and Elia Suleiman (who also serves as the event’s artistic advisor). Suleiman’s masterclass replaces a planned talk with Leila Hatami, who had to cancel her trip to Doha.

More than 100 international industry attendees are connecting with delegates from 29 projects at various stages of production (all of the projects have backing in part from DFI).

Attending industry – to name just a few — include Toronto’s Cameron Bailey, Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maravel, Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s Tala Al Asmani, Gulf Film’s Selim El Azar, Urban Distribution’s Frederic Corvez, the Danish Film Institute’s Henrik Bo Nielsen, Cannes Critics’ Week’s Remi Bonhomme, script consultant Claire Dobbin, Locarno’s Nadia Dresti, Busan’s Kim Ji-Seok, filmmaker Annemarie Jacir, MPM Film’s Marie-Pierre Macia, and Visit Films’ Ryan Kampe.

Qumra will offer one-on-one tutorials, rough cut consultations, work-in-progress screenings and feedback, script consultations, group tutorials, and more than 250 match-made one-on-one meetings.

A panel on Monday will look at the demand for more film and entertainment content in the Arab World; the panel will consider the findings of a study by Northwestern University in Qatar. Panelists include Gulf Film’s Selim El Azar, MBC Group’s Fadi Ismail and Hania Mroue, director of Beirut’s Metropolis Cinema.

Sarajevo’s Jovan Marjanovic is serving as Qumra’s Industry Advisor, and he noted that the programme was roughly divided into two advising days followed by three days of meetings and industry screenings. Group tutorials planned are about scriptwriting in the Middle East (led by Claire Dobbin), crowdfunding (led by Vida Rizq), international sales and marketing (led by Frederic Corvez), the legal aspects of co-production (led by Roberto Olla), and the short film industry (led by Sebastien Aubert).

DFI CEO Fatma Al Remaihi said at today’s launch, “Today, with the beginning of Qumra, we mark the beginning of new collaborations; new creative partnerships; and new friendships. Qumra is about the exchange of ideas. Qumra is about the exchange of knowledge. And ultimately Qumra is about inspiration.”

Suleiman added that “there is an experimental aspect” to the inaugural edition of Qumra. “It came from passion, this idea of Qumra,” he said today in Doha. “We want to let it head in different directions…we want to let it evolve.”

In addition to the industry programme, the public screening programme of the festival will include works by the invited mentor Masters for Qumra, as well as some films by new voices that have been supported by Doha Film Institute.

Screenings include Sissako’s Oscar -nominated Timbuktu, Pablo Larrain’s No starring Garcia Bernal, Mungiu’s Tales From The Golden Age, Suleiman’s Chronicle of a Disapperance, and Tanovic’s An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker.

The new voices programme includes Memories on Stone by Shawkat Amin Korki; My Love Awaits Me by the Sea by Mais Darwazah; The Narrow Frame of Midnight by Tala Hadid; and short films The Forgotten by Ehab Tarabieh, Maqloubeh by Nicolas Damuni, Old Airport Road by Abdullah Al-Mulla, Survival Visa by Nadia Rais and The Wall by Odette Makhlouf Mouarkech.

Qumra runs through March 11.