Having an impressive line-up of Arab films in your film festival is all well and good, but you’ve got to ensure you’re doing something to ensure they keep coming in future years. And the Doha Film Institute’s new round of grants – announced yesterday – is exactly that sort of something.
On the third day of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival it was revealed that 27 grants would be handed out to MENA projects, selected from a record high of 211 applicants. On the list of recipients – which includes 11 feature films, five short fiction films, nine feature documentaries and two experimental features – are several already up-and-coming names.
Susan Youssef, who bagged a hearty collection of awards at last year’s Dubai International Film Festival with her debut feature Habibi, is getting a development grant for her next project, Marjoun and the Flying Headscarf. Another Dubai gong winner is Yahya Alabdallah, whose film The Last Friday earned lead Ali Suliman the Best Actor trophy last year. His feature Me, Myself and Murdoch will also be getting a DFI development grant.
Naturally, there are a few films tackling the regional politics, but from an interesting perspective. Gaddafi’s Girls, by Sylvia Stevens, will be a documentary looking at Muammar’s team of female bodyguards, while Egypt’s Modern Pharaohs, by Jihan El Tahri, is set to explore Egyptian rulers from the revolution in 1952 to Mubarak’s ousting last year.
“We’re really encouraged by the breadth and depth of submissions from this session and as we continue to fine-tune our MENA Grants process, we will ensure we can support an even more dynamic slate in the future,” said DFI CEO Abdulaziz Al-Khater.