Doha Outlines Plans for Inaugural Qumra Festival

Elia Suleiman

The fest, which will focus on first- and second-time filmmakers, will run March 6-11

The Doha Film Institute has given its first peek at plans for the inaugural Qumra film festival.

The fest, which will focus on the works of first- and second-time filmmakers, will take place in the Qatari capital March 6-11.

In an announcement that came at the close of the DFI’s second Ayjal Youth Film Festival over the weekend, it was revealed that Qumra would feature a series of master classes led by prominent figures from across the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

The ‘Qumra Masters’ will include Abderrahmane Sissako, director of Timbuktu, Leila Hatami, star of A Separation, Romanian Palme d’Or winner Cristian Mungiu and Danis Tanovic, whose No Man’s Land (2001) won the Golden Globe and Academy Award for best foreign language film.

"I am honored to participate in the inaugural edition of Qumra and to share my experience in the hopes that it might benefit the filmmakers attending with their projects," said Sissoko in a statement.

Alongside master classes, the festival will also include one-on-one meetings and workshops between experts and filmmakers working on up to 25 projects in development or post-production. There will also be screenings open to the public, as well as a series of films chosen by the Qumra Masters and accompanied by Q&A sessions.

The inaugural edition of Qumra - which together with Ayjal formed a replacement for the Doha Tribeca Film Festival that was canceled last year after four editions – was originally set to launch this year. In January, however, organizers said the event would be postponed for a year, with the  DFI claiming it was “realigning its objectives." In August, Abdulaziz Al Khater, CEO of the Doha Film Institute, stepped down after less than 24 months in the role.

“The concept for Qumra has evolved over time into something that responds to the needs of filmmakers in a very meaningful way,” said acclaimed Palestinian director Elia Suleiman (Divine Intervention), who is serving as artistic advisor for the Qumra festival and the DFI.

The Ajyal Youth Film Festival closed Saturday with the regional premiere of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, attended by the film’s producer Salma Hayek, writer-director Roger Allers and Academy Award-winning composer Gabriel Yared.