The announcement was made on Friday in Toronto, where the adaptation of Lebanese artist and author Kahlil Gibran’s celebrated book will be getting its world premiere Saturday.
“We’re very excited, it’s come full circle,” said Fatma Al Remaihi, acting CEO of the Doha Film Institute, the Qatar government-funded cultural body that helped finance the project alongside Participant Media and several other groups.
Although guests for the premiere have yet to be confirmed, Al Remaihi says that she’s hoping most of those involved in the film will be able to attend the screening in Doha on Dec. 6. “We want everyone who participated in it to talk about their experiences and to also take part in some master classes or workshops.”
The announcement comes after a period of uncertainty for the Doha Film Institute. Its CEO Abdulaziz Al-Khater resigned in August after less than two years in the role having overseen two major rounds of redundancies and the end of the organization’s partnership with Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival. This week, its head of programming, Ludmila Cvikova, stepped down after three years in Doha.
“She did a lot for the institute and I was very happy to work with her personally, but now she’s looking for other opportunities,” says Al Remaihi, who was overseeing the Ajyal festival before stepping in as acting CEO following Al-Khater’s departure.
Earlier this year, the second of the two festivals that were lined up to replace the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, which ended in 2012, was canceled on short notice. Qumra, for first- and second-time filmmakers, was due to take place in March 2013, but Al Remaihi says she is confident it will take place in 2015, with help from Palestinian auteur Elia Suleiman as cultural supervisor.
“We’re very excited about how it’s shaping up to be and will be announcing a few things soon. We want to focus the initiative on mentoring and education and developing projects to the next level, and we want to try to fill the gap we can see in the region,” she said.
At the 2013 Berlinale, the Doha Film Festival announced a $100 million revolving fund deal with Participant Media to finance 10 to 12 films over a five-year period. Despite coming into force in January, no films are yet to have come out of the arrangement.
“There’s nothing new to announce. We’re still working together, but there’s nothing basically to announce. The deal is still there and we’re still happy to be working with Participant,” says Al Remaihi.
The Ajyal Youth Film Festival is due to take place in Doha Dec. 1-6.