Arab talent celebrated as Doha Tribeca opens

Rebecca Hawkes ©RapidTVNews | 25-10-2011

The next generation of Arab filmmaking is being showcased over the coming five days in Qatar, as the Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF) opens this evening (25 October) with the world premiere of Black Gold.
The film is the first high budget film produced entirely in the Middle East and North Africa, by Doha Film Institute (DFI) in partnership with Tarak Ben Ammar's Quinta Communications. Filmed in Qatar and Tunisia, the film tells the story of a 1930s emir, fighting to protect his land once oil is discovered in the region. Black Gold is directed by Jean Jacques Annaud and stars Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto and Mark Strong.
"The films we are showcasing from the region this year are very diverse and in terms of talent, story and production values are on par with similar offerings from international cinema. There has been a real explosion of growth in this sector around the Middle East and North Africa, and the maturity of vision is evident in the broad selection we are honoured to bring to Doha audiences for DTFF 2011," said Hania Mroue, chief Arab programmer, DFI.
A Moroccan courtroom drama 'Omar Killed Me' by Roschdy Zem tells the tale of an investigative journalist who delves into the case of a gardener wrongfully convicted of murder; while the internationally acclaimed Nadine Labaki's 'Where do We Go Now?' is a comedic musical that sees the women of a village in South Lebanon uniting to stop the cycle of violence that surrounds them.
Meanwhile, the topical 'Normal' by Merzak Allouache tells the story of a director who allows a group of young actors to create an ending to his own documentary about the disillusionment of youth in Algeria.
The third annual Doha Tribeca Film Festival, which promises a star appearance from Antonio Banderas, will also screen the celebrated black and white film The Artist by Michel Hazanavicius; The Lady, Luc Besson's biopic of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi; a documentary about South African singer Miriam Makeba, called 'Mama Africa'; and Kristin Scott Thomas and Ethan Hawke in the thriller 'The Woman in the Fifth'.
However, says Amanda Palmer, executive director, DFI: "This festival goes beyond the red carpet. It is a celebration of all aspects of film and our community programming opens doors to nurturing film culture for people of all ages."
For example, the world renowned Egyptian actor Omar Sharif is both attending the festival, and addressing media students at Qatar University during his visit to Doha, according to Palmer.
The Made in Qatar competition, which is new this year, is also helping both national and expatriate filmmakers who have developed affinity with the Gulf state to tell their own stories. The competition, which will now become an annual fixture, carries a prize of QR10,000.
The Doha Tribeca Film Festival 2011 runs from 25-29 October at the Katara Cultural Village, Doha. It will end with a concert by British Grammy-nominated singer Leona Lewis.