Doha Film Institute unveils spring 2017 grants.

Mohamed Ben Attia

Palestinian film-maker Annemarie Jacir’s upcoming dark comedy Wajib and Tunisian director Mohamed Ben Attia’s [pictured] new film Weldi have won funding in the latest round of grants from the Doha Film Institute (DFI).

Unveiling its spring 2017 grants round during Cannes, the Qatari institution said it had supported 29 projects from 16 countries, with 80% of the selected projects hailing from the Arab world.DFI CEO Fatma Al Remaihi highlighted the fact that 19 out of the 29 projects were directed by female film-makers.

“This year’s grants projects are even more special for the large representation of women directors as well as themes that focus on coming-of-age stories of central female characters,” she said.

“Stories of hope, self-discovery, women empowerment, tales of family life and of life in conflict zones are highlighted in the selections this Spring,” she added

It has been a high-profile Cannes this year for the DFI grants programme which backed Un Certain Regard titles Beauty And The DogsUntil The Birds Return as well as They, which premiered in a Special Screening.

In addition, Sonia Kronlund’s documentary Nothingwood, which premieres in Directors’ Fortnight, is a recipient in the latest round.

Other feature-length grantees include Mounia Meddour’s Papicha and Syrian film-makers Rana Kazkaz and Anas Khalaf’s revolution drama The Translator.

The selection also includes shorts such as The Black Veil, the latest work from budding Qatari film-maker A.J. Al Thani whose award-winning first short Kashta plays in a Made in Qatar showcase in the Cannes Marché on May 24.   

The grantees also include projects from Bahrain, Indonesia and Somalia for the first time.

The Spring 2017 cycle marks the 14th session of the DFI grants programme, which has supported 340 projects to date.

“Our grantees represent the core of the Doha Film Institute’s mandate to support emerging filmmakers and contribute to the development of the regional and international film industry,” said Al Remaihi.

“The new grantees cover a broad range of subjects and represent some powerful new voices in cinema from the Arab region and beyond, highlighting the remarkable leaps in creativity by our emerging filmmakers, and their innovative and bold approach to story-telling.”


(synopses provided by DFI)

Feature Documentary/Development

A Man on Fire by Ibrahim Harb (Lebanon, Qatar)
A man on the pursuit for self-fulfillment within the civil defence department, placing savings lives in Lebanon’s geo-political context. 

Immolations by Meriem Achour Bouakkaz (Algeria, Canada, Qatar)
An intimate encounter with people who have attempted to set themselves on fire as a cry of distress against the infinite difficulties of simply finding their place in the sun.

Nation’s Hope by Hana Mire ((Somalia, UAE, UK, USA, Sweden, Republic of the Congo, Qatar)
A season in the lives of Somalia’s National Women’s basketball squad, as veteran coach Suad Galow leads the team of fearless young women against both rival teams and Al-Shabaab.

On the Crossbar by Sami Tlili (Tunisia, France, Qatar
Tale of the Tunisian football team, whose improbable journey in 1978 intertwined with the worst crisis the country had known since its independence.

Mnemosyne by Shaza Moharam (Egypt, Qatar)
A feature experimental/essay that depicts Shaza returning to her hometown of Alexandria, with a quest to recover from her childhood amnesia, only to find that the city itself is losing its memory.

Feature Documentary/Post-Production 

Amal by Mohamed Siam (Egypt, Lebanon, France, Germany, Denmark, Qatar)
A tale of  an angry Egyptian teenager, who seeks her place and identity in a male-dominated society

Nothingwood by Sonia Kronlund (France, Germany, Qatar)
Portrait of Salim Shaheen, the most prolific and popular actor-director-producer in Afghanistan. Passionate about cinema, he tirelessly makes Z-grade movies in a country that has been at war for over 30 years.

 The Normal Way (Tunisia, France, Qatar)
By Erige Sehiri, in which five train drivers are torn between their loyalty to the old Tunisian railway company and the fresh personal aspirations they can finally express in the wake of the revolution, while on a road trip.

 Tiny Souls by Dina Naser (Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar)
Portrait of a young refugee’s life, as she goes from childhood to adolescence within the walls of the Al Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, reflecting its effect on her reality and future.

You Come from Far Away by Amal Ramsis (Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar)
An experimental/essay; Imagine your father is a Palestinian who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Imagine you have a family, but were raised without parents.

Feature Narrative/Development

Days of Grace by Saleh Nass (Bahrain, Lebanon, Qatar)
Tale of a young Syrian man, who has only a few days left in Beirut to find a way to avoid a dangerous journey back to a war zone.

Don’t Tell a Soul by Nour Wazzi (Lebanon, UK, Qatar)
Faris must uncover the truth, when a dead body turns up and his relatives go missing

Feature Narrative/Production

Abou Leila by Amin Sidi-Boumédiène (Algeria, France, Qatar)
Two childhood friends travel through the Algerian desert looking for Abou Leila, a dangerous terrorist on the run.

Papicha by Mounia Meddour (Algeria, France, Morocco, Qatar)
Nedjma refuses to submit to fear during the Algerian Civil War by fulfilling her dream of putting on a fashion show.

Sofia by Meryem Benm’Barek (Morocco, France, Qatar)
Set in Casablanca, it charts the life of 22-year-old Sofia, the only daughter in a rather traditional family. While having dinner with her siblings, she discovers she is about to give birth.

The Translator by Rana Kazkaz and Anas Khalaf (Syria, Jordan, France, Qatar)
A political refugee returns illegally to Syria and risks everything to free his brother from the regime, as the Syrian Revolution begins.

Weldi by Mohamed Ben Attia (Tunisia, France, Belgium, Qatar)
A father who is confronted by his own reality and has to question himself and his choices.

Feature Narrative/Post-Production

Ava by Sadaf Foroughi (Iran, Canada, Qatar)
An Iranian seventeen-year-old girl who challenges the strict rules of her traditional upbringing and learns that her mother broke the rules as a young woman as well.

Disappearance by Ali Asgari (Iran, Qatar)
A young couple with just a few hours left to solve a severe problem, while their relationship is heading for a crisis.

Joint Possession Leila Kilani (Morocco, France, Qatar)
Pharaonic real estate projects surround the Mansouria, a land-locked family estate that is up for sale and coveted by Amina and her heirs.

Our Madness by João Viana (Portugal, Angola, France, Mozambique, Qatar)
A child helps a woman who seeks her husband all over Mozambique. When they finally find him, the child is killed.

The Blessed by Sofia Djama (Algeria, France, Belgium, Qatar)
Set in Algiers, a few years after the civil war, it follows Amal and Samir, who have decided to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary at a restaurant, but the mood turns dark and becomes more volatile as the night wears on.

The Seen and Unseen by Kamila Andini (Indonesia, Netherlands, Australia, Qatar)
Tantra becomes very sick and falls into a deep sleep, forcing his twin Tantri to go beyond words to communicate with him.

Wajib by Annemarie Jacir Palestine, UAE, France, Switzerland, Norway, Colombia, Qatar)
Shadi returns to his hometown to help his father hand-deliver his sister’s wedding invitations. As the estranged pair go house to house, the details of their fragile relationship come to a head.

Short Narrative/Production

Inside Me by Halla Tarek (Egypt, Germany, Qatar)
A young Egyptian girl, silenced by society, who goes on an adventure to discover her own voice fighting an evil monster.

Last Day at Home (Qatar) by Noor Al-Nasr (Qatar)
His last day at home becomes a boy’s first day of an adventure.

Night by Ahmad Saleh (Palestine, Jordan, Germany, Qatar)
A mother, who has been unable to sleep since the disappearance of her son, meets a storyteller whose tales can heal sleepless souls.

Soaring over Mayhem by Abdullah Al-Wazzan (Kuwait, Qatar)
Two brothers, who struggle to survive as they arrive at manhood in the brutal terrain of war-torn Syria.

The Black Veil (Qatar) by A.J. Al Thani (Qatar)
A woman attempts to finally escape, in order to gain freedom from the oppression she has been living under.