Filmmakers from 24 countries, including the US and Italy, to receive funding


The Doha Film Institute has announced recipients of the autumn 2014 session of its grants programme. The announcement has come just ahead of the Berlinale (Feb 5-15) where four of the Institute’s previous grantees will be presented, including three world premieres.  

Some 21 projects from 24 countries – comprising nine narrative feature films, eight feature documentaries and four short films – will receive funding for development, production or post-production.

It marks the ninth session of the grants programme, which supports new cinematic talent, with a focus on first and second-time filmmakers.

A total of 11 of the projects are from the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region; eight are from the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee list of countries (DAC); and two are from the rest of the world.

For the first time, filmmakers from Italy, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nepal, The Philippines and US will receive grants.

Among the 21 projects selected for funding, three films are from Tunisia:

  • Walid Mattar’s narrative feature Northern Wind, an exploration of friendship between two men whose lives cross paths due to a factory relocation;

  • Claire Belhassine’s feature documentary The Man Behind The Microphone, about Hedi Jouini who is known as the ‘Frank Sinatra of Tunisia’;

  • and second-time grantee Kaouther Ben Hania’s documentary Zaineb Hates the Snow, a family portrait about a young girl who is relocated to Canada following the death of her father.

Two projects from Qatar-based filmmakers were awarded grants:

  • Nora Al Subai’s Opening Doors, the true story of Amna Mahmoud, a Qatari teacher who opened the first school for girls in Qatar in 1957;

  • and Karem Kamel’s Light Sounds, about an unlikely duo of Sri-Lankan immigrants who work as cleaners in a washroom neighbouring a mosque.

MENA conflicts on film

Several projects with perspectives on the conflicts in the MENA region are among the grantees.

Dégradé is the debut feature from twin brothers Arab & Tarzan Abunasser about 12 women stuck in a Gaza hair salon for an entire afternoon, as they witness a violent confrontation taking place across the street.

In the Future, They Ate from the Finest Porcelain by Larissa Sansour is an experimental short about Palestine which examines the role of myth in history and national identity.

To All Naked Men by Bassam Chekhes is a narrative drama set in the aftermath of the Syrian war.

Fatma Al Remaihi, CEO of the Doha Film Institute, said that latest group of grantees “represent some powerful new voices in cinema”.

Women directors

“The cultural diversity among the projects is very inspiring, as is the fact that once again, we are seeing so many strong female-driven projects,” added Al Remaihi, as 12 of the the 21 funded projects are directed by women.

These include:

  • Deniz Erguven’s Mustang, a Turkish project about five girls who grow out of childhood in a family obsessed with their virtue;

  • Anahita Ghazvinizadeh’s They, about the transition from childhood to adulthood and the open-ended questions of identity faced by the young protagonist;

  • Nour Wazzi’s family drama, The Trophy;

  • and Scales by Saudi Arabian director, Shahad Ameen, which blends fantasy and reality in a tale of a 13 year-old girl fighting against her imminent fate of becoming a mermaid.


Female-driven projects are also strongly represented in the documentary category where seven of the nine grantees are women. They include:

Marie-Clemence Andriamonta Paes’s ‘Madagascar 1947, The Sound Of Silence’, about the largely unknown post-WWII rebellion by Malagasy war veterans which was harshly suppressed by the French colonial authorities;

Jewel Maranan’s ‘Tondo, Beloved’ about the effects of poverty as people are caught up in the path of Manila’s port expansion;

and Maryam Ebrahimi’s ‘The Confiscated Images’, about Iranian Gulf war photographer, Saeed Sadeghi, whose images were used to propel the myth of the Holy War.

Tamara Stepanyan has received a grant for the third time, making her the first third-time grantee of the programme. Her feature documentary, Limbo, explores the experience of Armenian asylum seekers.

Berlin titles

Four of the Institute’s grantee alumni are screening at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival which opens on Thursday (Feb 5).

Two documentaries will make their world premiere in The Forum section - David Yon’s ‘The Night and The Kid’ (Fall 2012 grantee) and Michel Zongo’s ‘The Siren of Faso Fani’ (Fall 2013 grantee).

Also in the Forum section is Ghassan Salhab’s ‘The Valley’ (Fall 2012 grantee) which had its world premiere at Toronto 2014, while ‘Out on the Streets’ (Spring 2013 grantee) by Jasmina Metwaly and Philip Rizk will have its world premiere in Forum Expanded.

Submissions for the current grants session are now open and will close on February 15.

The fund is available to projects by filmmakers from around the world with an emphasis on supporting filmmakers from the MENA region with certain categories of funding reserved for MENA and Qatari filmmakers.

The fund is primarily for first and second-time filmmakers with the exception of the category of post-production which, as of the 11th session, will be newly open to established filmmakers from the MENA region.

For more information about eligibility and submission process visit:

DFI grantees
Fall 2014 session


Scales by Shahad Ameen (Saudi Arabia, Qatar)

Thirteen-year-old Hayat was almost sacrificed to become a mermaid by her father when she was an infant. Now she faces the same problem once again because of her newborn brother.


Birdshot by Mikhail Red (Philippines, Qatar)

A farm girl mistakenly shoots and kills an endangered Philippine Eagle. When authorities begin a manhunt to track down the eagle’s killer, they stumble upon an even more horrific discovery.

Dégradé by Arab & Tarzan Abunasser (Palestine, Jordan, France, Qatar)

Gaza, nowadays. Twelve women are stuck in a hair salon for a whole afternoon, witnessing a violent confrontation taking place across the street.

Northern Wind by Walid Mattar (Tunisia, France, Qatar)

A shoe factory is relocated from France to Tunisia. The fates of Marcel, who becomes unemployed at 50, and Foued, a young Tunisian womaniser, are turned upside down.

They by Anahita Ghazvinizadeh (Iran, US, Qatar)

Suspended between childhood and adulthood, J imagines possible futures through familial relationships. Plants, poetry and medicines provide the environment where these  relations take place.

To All Naked Men by Bassam Chekhes (Syria, Netherlands, Turkey, Lebanon, Qatar)

One night, Salman wakes up frightened. He is driven to escape the investigation that was taking place in his dream, as he realises that he knew something about the crime.

White Sun by Deepak Rauniyar (Nepal, Qatar)

A dark comedy about life in a Nepali mountain village in the wake of the decade-long armed conflict.


Mediterranea by Jonas Carpignano (Italy, France, Germany, Qatar)

After leaving his native Burkina Faso, Ayiva makes the perilous journey across the Sahara and Mediterranean in search of a better life in Italy.

Mustang by Deniz Gamze Ergüven (Turkey, France, Germany, Qatar)

Five vibrant girls grow out of childhood in a family obsessed with their virtue. Their trial of strength for freedom crests into a spectacular attempt to break free.


Limbo by Tamara Stepanyan (Lebanon, Armenia, France, Qatar)

Marseille, 2014. Dozens of Armenian asylum seekers are trying to survive while waiting for their applications to be considered. They live in an indeterminate space, wandering in limbo.

Madagascar 1947, The Sound of Silence by Marie-Clémence Andriamonta-Paes (Madagascar, France, Qatar)

1947, Madagascar: a rebellion is harshly suppressed by French colonial authorities. This unknown story will be told from a Malagasy perspective by questioning  the Sikidy geomancy tradition.

The Confiscated Images by Maryam Ebrahimi (Sweden, Qatar)

Saeed Sadeghi is the Iranian photographer responsible for images from the Gulf War that were used to propel the myth of a holy war to many Iranians.

Tondo, Beloved by Jewel Maranan (Philippines, Germany, Qatar)

‘Tondo, Beloved’ is a film about four people in different stages of life - birth, youth, adulthood and death - who are caught in the path of expansion of Manila’s busiest international port.

Zaineb Hates the Snow by Kaouther Ben Hania (Tunisia, France, Qatar)

Zaineb, a nine-year-old Tunisian girl, lost her father. Her mother is going to remarry - in Canada, where Zaineb can finally see snow! But Zaineb has decided to hate the snow.


City of Jade by Midi Z (Myanmar, Taiwan, Qatar)

Can they escape the army’s interrogation and the temptation of drugs? Sleeping, eating and mining in the City of Jade.

The Man Behind the Microphone by Claire Belhassine (Tunisia, UK, Qatar)

An amazing story of love and family, celebrity and music. A portrait of Hedi Jouini, the godfather of Tunisian music.

The Silk Railroad by Martin DiCicco (US, Georgia, Qatar)

Wealth, opportunity, and discord collide along the route of a railroad under construction between Europe and Asia.


Opening Doors by Nora Al-Subai (Qatar, Canada)

Facing opposition from some parts of her community, Amna Mahmoud, a courageous Qatari woman, opened the first school for girls in Qatar, in 1957. This is her story. 


The Trophy by Nour Wazzi (Lebanon, UK, Qatar)

Sometimes the ones that love us most, can cause the greatest harm…


Light Sounds by Karem Kamel (Egypt, Qatar)

Two lives, two dreams, a mosque, and the desire to be heard.


In the Future, They Ate from the Finest Porcelain by Larissa Sansour (Palestine, UK, Qatar)

A narrative resistance group buries porcelain in Palestine for future archaeologists to excavate, seeking to influence history and support future claims to their vanishing lands.