Last night marked the start of jury duty for two of the three Doha Film Experience Competition jury sections: Hilal and Bader. And what a start it was!
Around 150 teenagers and young adults, ages 13 to 21, gathered at the Jurors’ Hub to register and receive their badges, bags and Ajyal Jurt T-shirts. Then, in the jam-packed Katara Drama Theatre, Doha Film Institute CEO Abdulaziz Al-Kather and Ajyal Festival Director Fatma Al Remaihi – along with Giffoni Film Festival director Claudio Gubitosi – welcomed the jurors, and reminded them of the importance of their task: “You are the heart and soul of this Festival,” Fatma told them; “you have the responsibility to select which directors are going to receive funding for their next film. So be thoughtful: by selecting a winner, you are making an important contribution to the future of filmmaking.”
The ceremony provided several moments of entertainment, as real-life impersonators of famous anime and manga characters took over the stage, and popular beat-box champion Ahmad Aba-Zaid wowed the audience with a surprising performance.
The jurors also had the chance to see what’s in store for them in a short video presentation about the films the will judge over the next five days, then they went off to their first screenings, followed by Q&As. Hilal jurors met Rick Lens, the lead actor in Boudewijn Koole’s ‘Kauwboy’, while Bader jurors watched George Tillman, Jr’s ‘The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete’. The Bader youth were thrilled they had the opportunity to witness this story of the lives of two adorable kids in a challenging world (a tough neighbourhood in New York City), and engaged in a discussion after the film about the inspiration for the story, as well as the performances and cinematography.
Today is the first day for the Mohaq jurors (ages 8 to 12), while Hilal and Bader will tackle their next screenings and their first panel on anime.
Jurors were also the main attraction on the red carpet last night as the Festival rolled out the red carpet for its opening night ceremony and film. Photographers feverishly snapped the revellers as they arrived for a sold-out screening of Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘The Wind Rises’, the Japanese master director’s latest film, which is doubtless destined to become a classic of anime cinema.
With the red carpet walked and the opening film opened, Festival attendees tried out some fantastic cuisine and took in the majestic close of the Ajyal Day One. Interesting T-shirts, lavish dresses and pocket square/tie combinations made even this editor-cum-dandy jealous at a fabulous celebration under the stars at Katara.
A compelling video installation accentuating the beauty of human movement and a large rose-blossom mural served as a beautiful backdrop to the diverse conversations, ranging from the weather in Amsterdam to the latest sitcom recommendations. The dynamic vibe we saw last night is a great portent for what the next four days of Festival hold in store.
Stay tuned for more of Ajyal’s exciting goings-on – and click here to find out what’s on today.
Check out Day 1 in pictures