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Qatari Filmmakers are Making History at Gulf Film Festival

Apr 15, 2011

Qatari Filmmakers (L-R): Amir Ghonim, Faisal Al Thani, Mohammed Al-Ibrahim and Mahdi Ali Ali

What? The Gulf Film Festival of course! This is a wonderful, non-profit cultural initiative that takes place annually in Dubai, ‘the Pearl of the World’. Aimed at raising awareness of the burgeoning Gulf cinema, Doha Film Institute is currently at the festival as both journalists and, very proudly so, participating filmmakers at this prestigious event.

The Gulf Film Festival has given filmmakers from around the region the chance to showcase their production and directorial prowess, giving the international film community another destination to explore and experience the wonder and excitement of Arab cinema from the Gulf.

The aforementioned Doha Film Institute representatives are honored to be able to represent our blossoming peninsular at this year’s event. This year, eight Qatari films will be representing Qatar at the festival. This is the highest number of Qatari films to ever be accepted into a single film festival; of this fact we are both proud and motivated to continue on with our advocacy of local and regional film. Of these films, five are Doha Film Institute productions.

Who? Meet Doha Film Institute’s student filmmakers, the bright stars behind spreading both the DFI name and Qatar’s as a whole during the Gulf Film Festival.


Amir Ghonim, Egyptian by birth but representing his home, Qatar, under the ‘Light’ category at the festival, was born to work in film. His film, ‘Dunia’ , follows the story of three people, whose lives somehow intersect, revealing the reasons behind certain discrepancies within our fragile societies. Amir directed the film, wrote the script and was aided by fellow DFI student, Mohammed Al-Ibrahim in cinematography.

DFI Student Filmmaker - Amir Ghonim

Faisal Al Thani is a blossoming talent to be reckoned with. As director, scriptwriter and composer of the film, supported by DFI within the production process, Al Thani is a hands on filmmaker, who is truly involved with his art. His film ‘Demi Plie’ is a touching look at the struggles of a young, Arab women, living in a modern Arab society, whilst coping with her simultaneous love and pain related to contemporary dance and her late mother.

DFI Student Filmmaker - Faisal Al Thani

Mohammed Al-Ibrahim is another of Doha Film Institute’s students and one of the hardest working aspiring filmmakers we have met to date. His Gulf Film Festival debut comes in the form of ‘Bilad Al Lu’lu’’ or ‘Land of Pearls’ in referring to Qatar, of course. The film takes you through the life story of grandfather Saad, a pearl shopkeeper trying to bridge the generation gap between his own son and his beloved grandson, Rashid. The film was directed by Mohammed, with production assistance offered via DFI.

DFI Student Filmmaker - Mohammed Al-Ibrahim

Sophia Al-Maria is a young Qatari woman who is well aware of the ongoing battle between the different generations and expectations of our society. Her film, ‘Kanary’ , is a fantastical drama that is set in Qatar. ‘Kanary’ follows the troubles of teenage Qatari, Najla, who upon being found in a car with a boy, is caught in a feud with her father. Insightfully written, directed by Al-Marry and produced by the Education department at DFI, this is an honest tale not to be missed.

DFI Student Filmmakers - (L-R) Wafaa Al-Saffar, Sophia Al-Maria

Wafaa Al-Saffar is Qatar’s very own magical dream weaver, with her Gulf Film Festival entry, ‘Um Al Subian’ tackling an issue that not many would dare to broach. Set in 1950s Qatar, the film, which is directed and written by Al-Saffar, tells the story of Um Al Subian. A female djinn who preys on young children, this one is not for the faint hearted!

However, our immensely talented team and students are not the only one’s proving to the world the worth and capabilities of Qatari cinema. On the contrary, meet the accompanying filmmakers, also representing Qatar at the Gulf Film Fest, and doing our state the justice it deserves with their astounding cinematic efforts:

Mahdi Ali Ali brings to light many taboo issues with his riveting display of honesty, relationships and the intoxicating Gulf region, through his brilliant comedic/drama offering, ‘The Gulf Habibi’ .

Qatari Filmamker - (L-R) Mohammed Al-Ibrahim and Mahdi Ali Ali

Qatari Filmmaker - Khalifa Al Muraikhi

Khalifa Al Muraikhi’s Gulf Film Festival offering is nothing short of a mystical adventure into the heart of Qatari fables, not unlike the magic spun by the likes of books such as ‘1001 Arabian Nights’. Produced and directed by Al Muraikhi, ‘Clockwise’ tells the story of a 20th century legend, and the origins behind the traditional musical styling of the Gulf’s pearl divers.

Take a look back at the journey of the DFI student filmmakers from last year’s ’10 Minute Film Program’:

See the rest of the 10 Minute Film Program series here .

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