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A scene from The Salesman by Asghar Farhadi

The Salesman, a film funded in part by Qatar’s Doha Film Institute (DFI), won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles last night.

In a celebratory tweet this morning, the DFI described the win as a “historic moment,” adding that it is the first time in 48 years that a film co-financed by an Arab country had won the award.

It’s also the first time ever that a Qatar-financed film has won the coveted prize.

However, this isn’t the first time that a project co-financed by DFI has made the shortlist.

Last year, two films also partly funded by the institute – Theeb and Mustang – made it to the nominations list.

Ceremony boycott

The Salesman is the story of a young couple whose relationship breaks down while they are performing Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.

It was directed by Iranian Asghar Farhadi.

Farhadi wasn’t present in Los Angeles to receive the award, however.

He had decided to boycott the ceremony to protest President Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban,” which temporarily barred entry to the US to nationals from seven-Muslim majority countries.

In a statement read out on his behalf at the ceremony, Farhadi said that his absence was “out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US”

He added that he believed that film makers had an important part to play in breaking down barriers and increasing mutual respect and understanding around the world.

“They create empathy between us and others. An empathy which we need today more than ever,” he said.

Qumra ‘Master’

Farhadi will be in Doha next month for the DFI’s Qumra, an event which aims to nurture young filmmakers from around the world.

He has been selected as one of Qumra’s “masters,” expert directors who will lead sessions at the event.

Each Master will participate in a series of masterclasses, workshops and one-on-one sessions with directors of participating DFI-backed projects and industry professionals from around the world.

They will also each screen one of their films for Doha audiences, the DFI said in a statement.

The third edition of Qumra is set to take place in Doha from March 3-8 at Katara Cultural Village, though public screenings kick off on Wednesday, March 1.

Thoughts?

A scene from Al Johara by Nora Al-Subai

DFI

A scene from Al Johara by Nora Al-Subai

This year, the Ajyal Film Festival will celebrate more local film-making talent than ever before, organizers have said.

Some 17 home-grown short films will screen at the Doha Film Institute (DFI) festival. Now in its fourth year, it will��run from Nov. 30 to Dec. 5 at Katara Cultural Village.

The event’s “Made in Qatar” section will feature a record number of short films directed and produced by Qatar residents, including the first films made by recipients of DFI and Qatar Film Fund grants.

They include Nora Al-Subai’s Al-Johara, Jassim Al-Rumaihi’s Amer-An Arabian Legend, Hend Fakhroo’s The Waiting Room and AJ Al Thani’s Kashta.

“This year’s program is extra special for us, as it includes the world premieres of the first completed projects from the Qatar Film Fund,” festival director Fatma Al Remaihi said in a statement.

She added:

“We are also happy to note several young filmmakers returning with their second films. This underlines the positive environment that Qatar offers them to evolve as professional filmmakers.”

Young jurors

Ajyal means “generations” in Arabic, and the festival caters to young people ages 8 to 21 years old.

Each year, organizers encourage young people from around the world to apply to become jurors, deciding which films should win Ajyal’s Best Film Awards.

In 2015, nearly 600 people from 45 different countries took part. Selection for this year’s jurors took place in September, and is now closed.

As well as their judging duties, young jurors will attend DFI workshops to help develop their media literacy and to teach them about how films are made, DFI said in a statement.

All 17 “Made in Qatar” films will be screened at a special ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7pm at the Katara Drama Theater.

Tickets will be priced QR25 and will go on sale on Nov. 16. The full line-up of films for the festival is yet to be announced.

Do you plan to go? Thoughts?

DFI casting call for aspiring actors in Qatar

The Doha Film Institute (DFI) has issued a callout for Qatar residents of all ages, nationalities and experience levels to apply to join its database of actors for new film projects.

Qatar-based aspiring and established actors who are interested in roles in locally-produced projects are especially welcome. The deadline for applications is Oct. 1st, and details on how to apply can be found on DFI’s website here.