The inaugural Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF) concluded with Tribeca co-founder Robert De Niro calling the festival “inspirational, full of promise and an important vehicle to discover and support emerging filmmakers in Qatar.” As host of DTFF’s Awards Show and Closing Night screening of the movie Cairo Time, De Niro addressed a crowd of thousands from a spectacular open-air theater constructed by DTFF on the grounds of the internationally acclaimed I.M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art.
DTFF’s Executive Director Amanda Palmer and Managing Director Maggie Kim, along with Tribeca co-founders Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff and Tribeca’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Gilmore joined De Niro for the closing day of the inaugural DTFF, which, over four days, welcomed industry luminaries from around the world. Martin Scorsese, Mira Nair, Sir Ben Kingsley, Patricia Clarkson, Youssra, Jeffrey Wright, Elia Suleiman, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Muna Wassef, Alexander Siddig, Hiam Abbass, Adel Emam, Haifa Hussein, Jassim Al Nabhan, Hayat Al Fahad, Saad Faraj, Dawood Hussain, Songul Oden and Kivanc Tatlitug were among those who journeyed to Doha to help usher in the first DTFF.
Awards were presented to “Team Qatar,” an inspiring documentary about Qatar’s first national high school debate team, directed by Liz Mermin, for the “Audience Award for Best Film in Festival” and “Pomegranates and Myrrh,” a beautiful love story starring Hiam Abbass, for the “Audience Award for Best Arab Film in the Festival.”
The festival came to a stunning finish with an evening punctuated by a massive fireworks display and a look towards the future.
“Over the past four days and nights, we’ve seen that film can do more than just entertain; it can educate, inspire and unite communities. We hope that in time, the Doha Tribeca Film Festival can give the Qataris a platform to tell their stories to the world through the universal language of film. We thank the people of Doha for embracing us with warmth and enthusiasm,” added Palmer.
“Today may be the end of the 2009 Doha Tribeca Film Festival, but today is also the start of something new,” said Geoff Gilmore. “You need only look at the more than 1,000 volunteers who signed up to help make the festival a reality, or the more than 10,500 people who came out over the past four days to see films in the theaters, to know that this Festival’s future is as bright as its vibrant, enthusiastic community.”
De Niro also co-hosted a panel celebrating the work of nine Qataris who created one-minute films this summer as part of a DTFF workshop on the craft of filmmaking. At the panel, DTFF revealed plans for a sweeping series of year-round educational programs that will dramatically expand the Festival’s existing efforts to give aspiring filmmakers a tangible way to learn the craft. The expansion includes the creation of the Doha Tribeca Labs for screenwriting and directing, a reciprocal exchange program between Doha and New York and a program to develop proposals from five promising Qatari filmmakers.
DTFF’s closing day announcements and festivities capped off a richly programmed, jam-packed four day Festival, which included screenings of 31 films, 11 of which have roots in the Middle East, as well as a wide array of panel discussions, educational workshops, star-studded red carpets, eight free, open air screenings in some of Doha’s most iconic locales, family-focused special events and more.
The Festival kicked off on a resounding note with an open-air screening of Nair’s Amelia at the Museum of Islamic Art, which was attended by more than 5,000 Qataris. This was nearly double the number expected by festival organizers, underscoring the community’s enthusiasm and support for the Festival. The evening began with a rousing performance by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra.
On the second day, the more than 1,000 Qataris who attended DTFF Family Day at the Museum enjoyed the chance to take a Bollywood dance lesson, saw jaw-dropping stunts and martial arts demonstrations, learned the basics of making an animated film, had their face painted and more. Family Day also welcomed Scorsese to the Museum for a special event also focused on the one-minute films created by the Qatari community this summer.
The following evening, 1,500 people joined DTFF for a Halloween night under the stars. The Souq Waqif, an authentic Middle Eastern bazaar located in the heart of Doha, provided the dramatic back-drop for the Qatar premiere of The Mummy (Al- Momia), which was restored by Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation. The film played on an enormous screen erected by the Festival especially for the event, and was free to the public.
To enhance the public’s engagement with the Festival, DTFF’s content-rich website, www.dohatribecafilm.com, has provided everything from detailed day-by- day “insider” guides to interviews with filmmakers. The website also provided those unable to attend the Festival a virtual ticket to DTFF through videos, blogs, social networking platforms, photo galleries and other original content.
Doha Tribeca Film Festival Labs for Screenwriters and Directors Set to Launch in 2010 As Aspiring Filmmakers in Doha and New York Begin Cross-Festival Exchange
The Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF) announced plans for a sweeping, series of year-round educational programs that will dramatically expand on the Festival’s existing efforts to discover and support emerging filmmakers and to build a film industry in Qatar over the long term. DTFF revealed details of the programs at a panel devoted to nine Qataris who created one-minute films this past summer as part of a DTFF workshop on the craft of filmmaking.
The initiatives announced by the Festival are: the creation of the Doha Tribeca Labs for screenwriting and directing and a reciprocal exchange program between Doha and New York for aspiring filmmakers. Both programs are manifestations of DTFF’s belief in film as a storytelling vehicle.
“The Doha Tribeca Film Festival is not just about four days,” said Amanda Palmer, DTFF’s executive director. “It is a year-round commitment. The start of these bold educational initiatives is a major step toward welcoming new voices to the global film community, and to creating a film industry in Qatar in the long term.”
Applications for the first labs for screenwriters and directors will be evaluated by a committee led by Palmer and Geoff Gilmore, chief creative officer at Tribeca Enterprises. The labs are slated to begin in March 2010. At next year’s DTFF, awards will be given to one participant in each lab to acknowledge their progress.
The exchange program will bring ten budding filmmakers from the Qatari community to the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival in New York and ten aspiring filmmakers from New York to the 2010 DTFF in Qatar. The application process will begin in January 2010. Participants at both festivals will receive all-access education badges, which grant them a behind-the-scenes look at everything in the festival, from production and directing to financing and programming. Between festivals, the two groups will remain in close contact and regularly connect throughout the year.
Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Robert De Niro was on hand during the announcement of the new year-round programs, and also voiced his support for them.
First Published in Men's Passion Issue #18 Dec.09 – Jan.2010