Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir’s upcoming TV drama Mornings In Jenin is among 39 projects to have secured Doha Film Institute (DFI) funding as part of its autumn 2020 grants round.
The drama, which is in development, marks Jacir’s first foray into TV drama after numerous shorts and three features, Wajib, When I Saw You and Salt Of The Sea.
Based on the eponymous, best-selling novel by Palestinian-American writer and journalist Susan Abulhawa, it is an intergenerational tale, spanning five countries and the intertwining lives of three siblings.
In keeping with the DFI’s mission, 31 of the 39 projects have Arab world connections, with 22 projects hailing from the Middle East and North Africa. Another eight projects at the post-production stage hail from Belgium, Bolivia, China, Ethiopia, France, Iran, Philippines and Sweden respectively.
“We have worked over the past ten years on our commitment to establish an important resource hub as part of a comprehensive ecosystem that promotes Arab talent and skills and adds value to the region’s creative industry,” said DFI CEO Fatma Hassan Alremaihi. “We are extremely proud of our past and future grant recipients, who represent DFI’s role in the development of independent cinema, and hope to further expand the creation of original and compelling content from the Arab world and beyond.”
Feature film grantees include Palestinian director Mahdi Fleifel’s upcoming documentary My Father’s House, a personal exploration of life in exile, and Lebanese director Nadim Tabet’s thriller Under Construction, revolving around a Syrian worker who uncovers a series of mysterious disappearances from a building site.
Non-MENA recipients include Bolivian director Kiro Russo El Gran Movimiento, about a worker who falls ill on arriving in the city of La Paz, and Iranian director Sahar Mossayebi’s drama Orca, about a divorcee on a personal mission to gain the Guinness World record for swimming the longest distance with her hands bound.
Seven of the grantee projects are by Qatari nationals or residents including the short film Hope by Abdulla Al-Janahi, about the perilous journey of disabled sea turtle, and Revenge Knows Nothing by Abdulla Al-Janahi and Abdulaziz Khashabi.
2020 autumn grants recipients (loglines provided by DFI)
Feature narrative – development
- Queens of Shadow (Morocco, Qatar) by Aida Senna follows Houria, a young law student, whose disappointment in the justice system leads her to take revenge.
- The Crown of Olives (Oman, Italy, Qatar) by Muzna Almusafer is about a girl who suffers from a past that is constantly chasing her and tries to save her friend from a similar fate.
Feature documentary – development
- Out of Place (Palestine, Sweden, Qatar) by Mohammed Al-Madjalawi is a coming-of-age story filmed throughout 20 years following Palestinians, who have now successfully settled in Europe.
- Targuia (France, Algeria, Italy, Qatar) by Leïla Artese Benhadj, 16-year-old Tab must choose between getting married and settling in town - or staying in the desert where she looks after her ten siblings.
- The Camera Never Cries (Sudan, Qatar) by Elsadig Abdelgayoum and Abuzar Adam is about two filmmakers who encounter death to document the 2019 Sudanese revolution only to be confronted with their personal intentions and political drives following the COVID-19 lockdown.
- Theft of Fire (Palestine, Canada, Qatar) by Amer Shomali is a fantasy thriller in which a Palestinian artist decides to steal back confiscated Palestinian art.
- Wall of Death (Morocco, France, Qatar) by Amine Sabir follows Zahra, who is torn between her family’s expectations and the desire to choose her own path and go against her parents’ wishes by performing in the motorcycle acrobatics show “Wall of Death”.
TV Series – development
- Adapted from the bestselling novel by Susan Abulhawa, Mornings in Jenin (Palestine, UK, Qatar) by Annemarie Jacir is a multi-generational story that spans five countries, four generations and the intertwining lives of three siblings.
- In the late 1980s period drama inspired by actual events The Exchange (Kuwait, Qatar) by Nadia Ahmad, two trailblazing women disrupt the corrupt boys club of Kuwait’s banking industry as the Gulf War looms.
Feature narrative – production
- Ashkal (Tunisia, France, Qatar) by Youssef Chebbi, Batal and Fatma are carrying out an investigation on a strange case of immolations.
- Blacklight (Algeria, France, Qatar) by Karim Bensalah is the story of Sofiane, an Algerian student living in France, who tries to avoid deportation by working in a funeral home.
- Under Construction (Lebanon, Qatar) by Nadim Tabet, a Syrian worker uncovers mysterious disappearances from a construction site near a Lebanese village.
Feature documentary – production
- Companions of the White Arc (Qatar, Jordan, Norway, Romania) by Elia Youssef and Mohammed Al Thani follows the first Qatari to achieve mountaineering’s coveted “Grand Slam” title during his arduous North Pole expedition.
- It Snows at Sidi Bou Said (Tunisia, France, Qatar) by Fatma Chérif is a filmed diary in which the filmmaker embarks on a search of the images that defined her life choices.
- Jodari Meno (Qatar, Zanzibar, Italy) by Jamal Al-Khanji, a Qatari spearfisherman chases his dream of catching a once in a lifetime fish.
- My Father’s House (Denmark, Palestine, Qatar) by Mahdi Fleifel is personal story about memory, exile, a father and son, and a family bond through generations.
Web series – Production
- Locals. Qatar. (Qatar) by Saud Al-Thani is a hyper-inclusive look into what responsibility and sense of belonging mean in a place where 90 percent of the population are guests.
- Rise of the Mad Cat (Qatar) by Meshaal AlAbdulla captures the adventures of a stray cat named Chimbir and Casper the goldfish, as they team up to take on the world and establish their scientific tech empire.
Feature narrative – post-production
- Neighbours (Syria, Switzerland, Qatar) by Mano Khalil tells of a childhood stuck between dictatorship and dark drama, as a six-year-old Kurdish boy experiences his first year in an Arab school.
- El Gran Movimiento (Bolivia, France, Switzerland, Qatar) by Kiro Russo, a worker falls ill upon his arrival to the city of La Paz, and his godmother attempts to save him through a healer.
- Orca (Iran, Qatar) by Sahar Mossayebi follows a divorced Iranian woman in search of her goal—the Guinness World record for swimming the longest distance with her hands bound.
- Whether the Weather is Fine (Philippines, France, Singapore, Indonesia, Germany, Qatar) by Carlo Francisco Manatad. Set in 2013 in Tacloban, Miguel wakes up in the chaos of Typhoon Haiyan.
- Feature documentary – post-production
- As I Want (Palestine, Norway, France) by Samaher Alqadi depicts an Arab woman’s personal process of self-emancipation in a revolutionary struggle against the odds.
- Fragments from Heaven (Morocco, France, Qatar) by Adnane Baraka is the story of Mohamed, scientist Abderrahmane, and other Bedouins, who search for celestial stones in the deserts of Morocco, but for varying motives.
- Children of the Enemy (Sweden, Denmark, Qatar) by Gorki Glaser-Müller is the story of bohemian musician Patricio, who lost his daughter to the Islamic State and seeks to save his grandchildren.
- Feyatey (Ethiopia, USA, Qatar) by Jessica Beshir is a spiritual journey immersed in the rituals of “khat”, a fantasy inducing leaf that has become the most lucrative cash crop in Ethiopia.
- , Les Enfants Terribles (France, Germany, Turkey, Qatar) by Ahmet Necdet Cupur. · Set in a close-Arab community, in a village situated near Syrian border of Turkey where children must face their imposed fate and pressure from the community, to emancipate and follow aspirations.
- Miles to Go Before She Sleeps (China, USA, Qatar) by Mijie Li, a Chinese animal activist is on a mission to stop the slaughtering of dogs in provinces where dog consumption is glorified as a gourmet tradition.
- The Miracle of Almería (Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands, Qatar) by Moon Blaisse follows the legal and illegalised inhabitants of Almeria, the biggest vegetable garden in Europe.