Acting CEO Fatma Al-Remaihi admits the Doha Film Institute is facing challenges.
The Doha Film Institute is “in transition” admits acting CEO Fatma Al-Remaihi who is in Toronto to support six films backed by the DFI, including Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, which gets its world premiere tomorrow night.
After Screen revealed earlier this week that head of programming Ludmila Cvikova is departing the institute after three years, Al-Remaihi admitted the DFI is facing structural and financial challenges but remains committed to its broad film output:
“There have been cuts to cultural funding all over the region and we are no different. In Qatar there has been a large governmental focus on health and infrastructure but that doesn’t mean we are not supported. We are. Commercial sponsorship also remains strong. It’s about being smart with what we have.”
Cvikova’s departure follows that of former DFI CEO Abdulaziz Al-Khater who left last month and the cancellation earlier this year of the DFI’s Qumra festival for emerging filmmakers.
However, Al-Remaihi believes the Qatari government remains committed to the DFI.
“The budget is in place to have two festivals per year and we are working well with the resources we have,” she explained. “We are working year round so this isn’t just about one event. We have monthly screenings, educational programmes, film financing and programming as well as the Ajyal Youth Film Festival and Qumra will launch in 2015.”
According to Al-Remaihi, Qumra’s cancellation was less about budget than “setting the [right] goals and structure for the event”.
The executive affirmed the DFI’s commitment to a slate of films with Partcipant Media.
Al-Remaihi, who has been acting CEO for one month, also confirmed that this year’s Ajyal Festival (Dec 1-6) will likely feature a new industry event run in collaboration with Italy’s Giffoni Film Festival.
The executive has been at the DFI since 2009. Would she like the job full time?
“That’s up to the board. They are looking at options now. This is a transition period. We’re working hard on implementing our strategy for the coming years. I’m always ready to serve the Institute and my country.”
DFI-backed Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, produced by Salma Hayek, will close this year’s Ajyal Youth Film Festival.