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Weekend Documentaries of Doha

Apr 22, 2013

By Emily C. Reubush

The challenge went out to all of Qatar: make a documentary in 48 hours. Only the brave dared to answer this call, and came to the kick off at Doha Film Institute headquarters on a Thursday evening. Along with familiar faces there were also new ones, and everyone was a little bit anxious.

It is, admittedly, a big ask: a finished short film, begun from scratch, in two days. Production companies would shudder. But this was open to all, no matter what experience they had, or lacked. The teams were limited to four people, and had to use their own equipment.

We offered five different types of documentary genres that could be undertaken, from an in-the-thick-of-it Michael Moore approach to that of an observational, fly-on-the-wall. We also asked that the tag line, “I truly believe this is an important issue,” was somehow included.

Some of the teams did have productions experience, some of the teams weren’t teams, until they met at the kick off. Some of the teams (okay, just one of them) were led by an ambitious fourteen-year-old.

In the end, eight films came back to us the following Saturday evening. The subjects varied widely: Doha, Syria, obesity, hemophilia, charity, comedy, the need to recycle old electronics and Friday games of Cricket in empty lots. We put these films onto our YouTube channel and let the community take over. One of the films went viral, with more than 8,600 views in less than five days—truly astounding. While we rewarded that film for such an impressive accomplishment, the Social Media Prize was based on “likes,” and it went to the film highlighting the issue of obesity in Qatar, directed by the aforementioned 14-year-old. A close second (just 4 “likes” short) went to “Mind Sweep,” a film highlighting the need to properly recycle small electronics.

While the public was having their say, our own panel of judges—made up of DFI’s professionals and local professors—had their own, and unanimously voted for “Cricket Market,” which highlighted the sense of community and joy that accompanies the games of cricket that spring up each Friday in empty lots around Doha. This film was awarded the most exciting prize—it will screen before each showing of the Katara DFI Cinema title for the month of May!

We salute each of the eight teams that took part and were able to complete this challenge—each film was impressive in its own way, and sitting in a darkened room watching them all back-to-back, it was impossible not to feel an intense sense of pride. We greatly look forward for more of these films in the next 48hr Film Challenges, and know that no matter what the genre or the requirements, the creative, devoted people of Doha will deliver.

Watch the films from the 48hr Documentary Challenge (April, 2013) here.

Watch the films from the very first 48hr Film Challenge (Sept, 2012) here.

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