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Arab Filmmakers Find New Audiences in South America

Jun 28, 2011

Inaugural Arab Film Week in Argentina to Celebrate Middle Eastern Films; three DFI films represent Qatar in Program Selection

Doha, Qatar, 28 June, 2011- Ten filmmakers from the Arab world now have a unique opportunity to connect with audiences in South America through showcasing their films at the first ever Arab Cinema Week in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Stemming from a collaboration between National Institute of Cinema and Audio-visual Arts (INCAA) and the Doha Film Institute (DFI), the event is geared towards facilitating cultural exchange and increasing understanding and appreciation for Arab storytelling within the international community.

The week-long event signals a foundational step for Arab cinema within Argentina and the South American region, as it is the first time that Argentinian audiences have been given access to an all-Arab film showcase. Selected filmmakers from Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Tunisia, UAE and Qatar will have the opportunity to engage with previously unchartered communities to foster key industry relationships and promote the creative talent steadily emerging from the region.

Running from June 23-29; the program includes film screenings, co-production forums and other networking events aimed at increasing industry relationships and enhancing collaboration opportunities for future Arab-film projects. DFI helped curate the event with a diverse selection of five features and five shorts from across the Middle East and North African region. Of the selected films, three shorts produced by DFI’s Education Department will make their South American debut at the event.

INCAA President Liliana Mazure, said: “This event furthers our vision to bring together developing film industries to combine efforts in order to showcase creativity from both our worlds. Both Qatar and Argentina are actively seeking co-production opportunities to develop sustainable film industry models. For these purposes, we have invited local producers to this inaugural event, where they can interact and share best practice with their Middle Eastern colleagues to lay the foundations for future collaborations.”

Argentina is home to nearly 3.5 million Arab-Argentines mostly of Lebanese and Syrian descent. Accordingly the event aims to engage Arabs in South America as well as the larger populous to celebrate the rich perspectives, creativity and storytelling inherent in Arab culture.

Executive Director of DFI, Amanda Palmer added, “This unique collaboration furthers our founding mandate to increase global recognition and acceptance of Arab films and talent, and is a really great opportunity for regional filmmakers to connect with South American audiences, who have had limited access to quality films from the Arab world. The event will provide a highly visible, and yet very specific platform for the exposure of Middle Eastern films in a region where such films will likely have a strong resonance. In addition, it will enable an exchange of resources and perspectives which we hope will bring communities together and foster growth opportunities within both our industries.”

Fatma Al Remaihi, International Promotions, DFI said “As a Qatari, it makes me really proud to see filmmakers from our region getting attention and recognition in faraway places like Argentina. For me, this is tangible evidence that the regional film industry is in fact growing and evolving into something credible and word-class. Also, the fact that we are now at a point where we can collaborate to foster growth in other developing film markets is great because it provides us with another means to expand world cinema into a more diverse and reflective industry.”

The five shorts in the Official Program include three Qatari productions and two projects from the UAE: DFI-produced films Land of Pearls by Mohammed Al-Ibrahim’s; Dunia by Amir Scandar and My Grandfather’s Past Through My Eyes by Noor Ahmad’s, will be screen alongside The Philosopher by Abdulla Kaabi (U.A.E) and Once by Nayla Al Khaja
(U.A.E).

The Official Feature Selection includes: Microphones by Ahmad Abdalla (Egypt); Majid by Nassim Abassi (Morocco); Grandma, a thousand Times by Mahmoud Kaabour (Lebanon); Hawi by Ibrahim El Batout (Egypt); and No More Fear by Mourad Ben Cheikh (Tunisia).

Commenting on the selection, Hania Mroué, DFI’s Chief Arab Programmer, said: “The selections we have made say a lot about Arab cinema today, its aspirations and its challenges. Most of the selected films were made on low budgets, but despite this, the immense creativity and determination of the selected filmmakers has enabled them to overcome production difficulties – be it with humor, originality or truly authentic storytelling.”

About Doha Film Institute:
DFI is an independent cultural organization established to incorporate Qatar’s film initiatives under one banner. Our many initiatives range from film funding for MENA and international films, production to year round educational programs, film screenings, as well as the annual Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF).