Training & Development

Back to listing

First Cut Lab

First Cut Lab - 2024

Start date:
Jun 01, 2024
Ability Level:

Our online ‘First Cut Lab’ is designed to assist three feature films (fiction/documentary) from Qatar or the MENA region and one short film from Qatar in the editing phase. The main goal is to foster the artistic potential of the selected rough cuts and, at the same time, to increase the sales, festival, and circulation potential of the completed films.

Selected producer/director/editor teams will screen their full rough cut and be given expert feedback on their edit from three international film advisors (creative producers, festival programmers, sales agents, etc.), as well as tailor-made advice from a consultant editor. An editor mentor and industry advisors are assigned based on the needs of each selected project. Participants will discuss their materials and receive productive input both in one-to-one meetings and in small groups via video-conferencing platforms.

The lab consists of a one-day (for shorts) or two-day (for features) workshop tailored individually to each project, preceded by a brief preparatory meeting. Following this, project teams can submit a new cut to their editing mentor within 1-2 months and receive a 2-hour follow-up consultation on the new cut. At the end of the lab, creative teams are provided with a written memo report that serves as guidance to further work on the editing and post-production of their films. Participants will be selected based on the strength of their films, vision, and approach, as well as their previous work.

Application Deadline: 20 April, 2024

Each project will have its own dedicated lab session, lasting one full day (for shorts) or two full days (for features). The Lab takes place over two consecutive days. Dates for the main sessions will be assigned to each project and confirmed after the selection process.

The programme will take place online, and each film will be workshopped either in early June, late July, or September 2024.

The exact dates of the Lab will be chosen in agreement with selected teams to best answer the needs of their films. A preferred period for the Lab should be mentioned in the application form.

Please note that the main mentorship sessions span the entire day, as mentioned above. A compulsory one-hour preparatory session will take place online with each creative team one week before their main session.

Sample Workshop Schedule – Feature Films (start times may vary depending on project and mentor time zones):
First day:
10:00-12:00 / Individual feedback given by each of the three advisors
14:00-16:30 / Collective discussion moderated by the head of the lab

Second day:
10:00-12:00 / Working session with editor consultant, part 1
14:00-16:00 / Working session with editor consultant, part 2
16:00-16:30 / Wrap-up session of the lab

Sample Workshop Schedule – Short Film(start times may vary depending on project and mentor time zones):
14:00-16:30 / Individual feedbacks and collective discussion moderated by the head of the lab
17:00 – 20:00 / Working Session with editor consultant

Lab Fee: 800 QAR (feature projects), 400 QAR (short film projects)
Language: English
Group Size: A creative team of 2 or 3 participants per film (director, producer, and editor)
Level: Advanced

Lab Programme

Preparatory Session
The preparatory session will begin with a brief introduction and state the objectives of the lab. The First Cut Lab director and the editor consultant will then consult with the members of each creative team about their expectations for the lab—assessing the current stage of their rough cut and discussing the unique difficulties and challenges their project may face.

Main session
The main session of the lab consists of two intensive days of diverse online consultations.

Day 1
Morning: participants will receive invaluable, elaborated feedback from each of the three international film mentors, who will have watched the rough cut the day before and reflected on the points they want to address.

Afternoon: the director of the lab will initiate and moderate a collective discussion, after drawing a summary of the feedback from the morning and identify the topics that would deserve to be further discussed in a plenary exchange.

Day 2
The second day is composed of two half-day one-to-one working slots with the consultant editor. Building upon the many feedback of the day before, the consultant editor will dig deeper into the film materials, also going through the film timeline in detail. In agreement with the intentions of the creative team—that will have reflected on the exchanges from the day before—a series of practical editing suggestions will be provided. The goal is for the creative teams to leave the lab with renewed energy, confidence and increased awareness in the identity and strength of their materials, and excitement with the prospect of experimenting with new editing approaches.

A week after the main session, the participants will be provided with a written memo report, that serves as guidance to further work on the editing and post-production of their films.

Submission Requirements:

  1. Application Document (as one PDF or word document)

    • Project Dossier, including:

      • Applicant name, project title, email address and phone number
      • Synopsis
      • Director’s note
      • Key crew & bios
      • Production company information
      • Film stills
      • Supplementary materials as desired (trailer, etc.)

    • A letter outlining your motivation to participate in the lab. It should:

      1. Describe the project’s current stage
      2. State its primary needs
      3. Mention the preferred lab dates (within the first two weeks of June, Last two weeks of July, or in September).

    • Link(s) to director’s previous work

    • Video material for your project:

      • This can be selected scenes, first assembly or rough cut
      • Minimum duration 30 minutes for feature films and 8 minutes for shorts
      • Subtitled in English
      • Must be available via a password-protected streaming service (e.g. Vimeo). No transfer services or cloud storage will be accepted.

  2. Copy of Passport or government-issued ID for participating creative team members (director, producer, and editor)

Please send these two documents to on or before 20 April 2024.
Please include your full name, project title, email and contact number in all text documents.


  • The First Cut Lab is designed for creative teams (director, producer, and editor) with a film at the editing stage. The project can be in various stages of post-production, though it is highly recommended to be in the early editing phase.
  • Applicants from Qatar and the MENA region including the diaspora, as well as DFI grantees (from any region), are prioritized for participation.
  • Applicants from emerging countries and regions are also encouraged to apply.


Matthieu Darras
Program Director

Matthieu Darras designs and leads film & talent development programs that are active worldwide, such as the First Cut Lab, the Pop Up Film Residency, and the Full Circle Lab. He previously worked for various film festivals, notably Cannes, Venice and San Sebastian. He was also the artistic director of the TorinoFilmLab, founded NISI MASA and wrote for the film magazine Positif.

Suzy Gillett
Editorial Advisor

Suzy Gillett trained as a filmmaker at Saint Martin’s College of Art, subsequently emigrating to Paris to work as a production and director’s assistant in documentary film and TV after her first job casting for the epic Bicentennial of the French Revolution Parade. Returning to London, she was a curator of international film festivals for ten years, including at the French Institute and Film Africa. For the next decade, Gillett empowered emerging filmmakers by designing and running several feature film development labs supported by Creative Media for The London Film School and Scuola Holden, I-Features for Creative England, BFI & BBC, and Lagos Lab for The British Council. She was Course Leader of the Barbican Young Film Programmers for eight years. Dublin Films has produced and developed her debut feature film script, ‘Chéramy’. She currently works as a script and edit consultant for European Film Funds and independent production companies and is an Editorial Advisor for First Cut Lab. Gillett also teaches Documentary Filmmaking at ESAV Marrakech and UNATC Bucharest.

Benjamin Mirguet
Editor Mentor

Benjamin Mirguet is an editor, editing consultant and director. He was involved in the editing of films such as ‘Batalla en el Cielo’ by Carlos Reygadas (Cannes Competition), ‘Meteora’ by Spiros Stathoulopoulos (Berlinale Competition), ’40 Days Of Silence’ by Saodat Ismailova (Berlinale Forum), ‘Dau’ by Ilya Khrzhanovsky, ‘Deadweight’ by Axel Koenzen (Berlinale Forum), ‘The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers’ by Ben Rivers (Locarno), ‘Together Forever’ by Lina Luzyte (Karlovy Vary), ‘Rey’ by Niles Atallah (IFFR Jury Prize)’ Memory House’ by João Paulo Miranda Maria (Cannes Label 2020), ‘Il Buco’ by Michelangelo Frammartino (Venice Jury Award 2021) and ‘Triangle of Sadness’ by Ruben Östlund (Cannes Palme d’Or 2022). He has collaborated with artists such as Philippe Parreno, Clément Cogitore, Ariane Michel and Fabrice Hyber. Mirguet was a member of the selection committee for the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight in 2010 & 2011.

Qutaiba Barhamji
Editor Mentor

Qutaiba Barhamji, born in Damascus, is an award-winning film director and editor. He has worked on over 50 films in 22 languages, many of which have been showcased at prominent film festivals like Cannes, Sundance, and Venice. These include ‘Little Palestine, Diary of a Siege’ (2021), ‘How to Save a Dead Friend’ (2022), ‘Smoke Sauna Sisterhood’, which won Best European Documentary in 2023, and the Oscar-nominated documentary ‘Four Daughters’ (2023), which earned L’Œil d’Or at Cannes Film Festival. As a director, his debut documentary, ‘Gevar’s Land’, was screened at IDFA, Cinema du Reel, and Doclisboa, winning l’Étoile de La Scam in 2022. Qutaiba also serves as an editing consultant and trainer for IDFA Project Space, DFI Qumra, and Eurodoc. In addition, he has served as a juror at various festivals and funds, including the Sundance Documentary Fund, IDFA Bertha Fund, and AFAC, among others.

Sebastian Sepúlveda
Editor Mentor

Sepúlveda lived the first 18 years of his life between Europe and South America due to his family’s exile from Chile during the military regime. On return to Santiago in 1990, he began studying history. Towards the end of the 1990s, Sepúlveda studied screenwriting at La Fémis in Paris and editing at EICTV in Cuba. He was involved in editing several films in the 2000s (‘La Leon’ and ‘Young and Wild’). Sepúlveda’s directorial debut was ‘The Quispe Girls’ (2013), produced by Juan de Dios and Pablo Larraín. ‘The Quispe Girls’ screened at the Venice Film Festival Critics’ Week, where it won Best Cinematography. In 2015 he edited ‘The Club’, which won the Silver Bear at the Berlinale. He was nominated to the Spirits Awards in 2017 for the editing of ‘Jackie’, and is currently working on the editing of Pablo Larrain’s new film, ‘Ema’.

Industry Advisors
Industry advisors are selected based on the needs of each project – previous advisors include:


Aranka Matits – The Netherlands
Featurette | Acquisitions

Aranka is the founder of boutique agency Featurette. She works with a roster of theatrical distributors across Europe, and past clients range from sales agents to multinational broadcasters to streamers. Aranka is an EAVE Puentes and Inside Pictures alumni, as well as a voting member of the European Film Academy. Originally from Cologne, she obtained a PhD in New York and is currently based in Amsterdam.

Featurette advises on acquisitions, co-productions, and strategic planning. Notable acquisitions credits range from Oscar winners ‘Parasite’ or ‘Another Round’ to ‘Shoplifters’ (Palme d’Or) or ‘L‘Événement’ (Golden Lion) to ‘First Cow’ and ‘The Souvenir’ (Sundance Grand Jury Prize) to ‘Drive My Car’ (Golden Globe).

Bob Moore – Canada
EyeSteelFilm | Producer

Bob Moore is a creative producer at EyeSteelFilm in Montreal, where he has produced over 40 feature documentaries since 2008. Together with his talented partners and collaborators, he has been the recipient of over 100 international awards, including Emmys, Cinema Eyes, Golden Horses, Owls, Phoenixes, and a variety of other celebratory animal-themed prizes. Bob loves to share his arcane knowledge and experience with like-minded filmmakers from around the world and is currently an advisor and mentor working with the Sundance Institute, IDFA, DMZ docs South Korea, Qumra, Tokyo Docs, Hot Docs, and RIDM. He is a member of the Canadian Academy of Cinema and Television, and a documentary branch member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

EyeSteelFilm is a film and interactive media company dedicated to using cinematic expression as a catalyst for social and political change. It was created to develop cinema that empowers people who are ignored by mainstream media, a mandate that has taken the company to explore projects, people, and ideas around the world.

Hédi Zardi
Head of Atlas Workshops

In 2015 Hédi Zardi launched with Fiorella Moretti their Paris-based company Luxbox, dedicated to international sales and co-production of selected projects. With a complementary industry knowledge built on experience in production, distribution, acquisitions, sales and festival programming they start with a solid film catalogue and a passionate pool of world cinema directors. The company launched at the Berlin EFM 2016, ‘Inhebbek Hedi’ (Hedi) by Mohammed Ben Attia, Best First Feature Film and Silver Bear for Best Actor and in Cannes, ‘Mimosas’ by Oliver Laxe, Grand Prize of the Critic’s Week. The company was present with two titles at Cannes 2020, ‘Spring Blossom’ by Suzanne Lindon and ‘In the Dusk’ by Sharunas Bartas. In parallel to its World Sales activity, Luxbox has started to co-produce several projects, including ‘Nuestro Tiempo’ by Carlos Reygadas. The next co-production projects are ‘Selene 66 Questions’ by multi-awarded Greek director Jacqueline Lentzou and ‘Barchini’ by Italian artist Yuri Ancanari. He is now Head of the Atlas Workshops of the Marrakech International Film Festival.

Mads K. Mikkelsen – Denmark
Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival | Head of Programme

Mads K. Mikkelsen is Head of Programme at CPH:DOX – Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival. Besides programming CPH:DOX, he runs various parallel screening series and cinema clubs, teaches film history at the Danish Film School, and is a frequent contributor to national and international magazines and publications about film. In 2018, he published his first book about cinema. At the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, he received an award for his work as a programmer from Festival de Cannes – Marché du film and Screen International.

Maëlle Guenegues – France
CAT&Docs | Sales Agent

After working at different festivals in France, such as Les Rencontres du Cinéma, Sunny Side of the Doc, and FIPA, Maëlle moved into international distribution, first with Point du Jour International and Doc&Co (Doc & Film International) before joining Catherine Le Clef to launch CAT&Docs in 2009. CAT&Docs is dedicated to promoting and distributing creative documentaries in all media worldwide. Pertinent and impertinent documentaries on topical questions and timeless subjects, ones that are carefully researched and audacious, which question the world and propose new ways of looking at it. Recent titles include ‘My Stolen Planet Apolonia’, ‘Apolonia’, ‘Between Revolutions’, ‘Children of the Mist’ and ‘The Earth is Blue as an Orange’.

Martina Droandi – Austria
Autlook Filmsales | Sales & Acquisitions

After a BA in Anthropology and Music at SOAS University of London, Martina Droandi obtained a master’s degree in documentary film directing from DocNomads. She gained experience in the industry working and living in many European countries, including France, Spain, and Germany. Droandi took part in the Atelier Ludwigsburg-Paris, specialising in production and distribution and began working in sales directly after. She joined Autlook Filmsales as an acquisition & sales manager in 2019.

Autlook Filmsales is one of the leading sales agents for feature documentaries, hybrids and doc series. Autlook offers a full spectrum of customised festival, sales and distribution strategies, maximising audience engagement and revenue as well as fostering filmmakers’ careers. We have an endless passion for the art of documentaries. We are currently representing: ‘The Mother Of All Lies’ (Cannes awarded) by Asmae el Moudir, ‘Smoke Sauna Sisterhood’ (Sundance awarded) by Anna Hints, ‘Three Minutes – A Lengthening’ (Giornate degli Autori, Telluride, TIFF, Sundance) by Bianca Stigter, ‘A Compassionate Spy by Steve James’, ‘Innocence’ (Venice premiered) by Guy Davidi, ‘Belushi’ by R.J. Cutler, ‘Writing With Fire’ by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh (94th Oscars® nominee), ‘The Painter And The Thief’ by Benjamin Ree (93rd Oscars® shortlist), ‘For Sama’ by Waad Al Kateab and Edward Watts (Emmy® Awarded, 92nd Oscars® nominee) and ‘Of Fathers And Sons’ by Talal Derki (91st Oscars® nominee).

Matthew Takata – USA
Sundance Institute | Assistant Director, Feature Film Program, International

Matthew Takata is the Assistant Director for the Feature Film Program’s international work at the Sundance Institute. His focus is on international outreach and selection for the Institute’s Screenwriters and Directors Labs in Utah, FFP’s international labs, which have included India, Jordan, Greece, Mexico and Cuba, and the annual Sundance/NHK Award. Previously, Takata worked in development at GK Films, following a stint at Key Creatives and International Creative Management. Takata attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program has supported many of the leading independent filmmakers of the past 30 years whose distinctive, singular films have engaged audiences worldwide. The Institute’s guiding values of risk-taking and freedom of expression have broadened to include American and international artists in a meaningful and vibrant dialogue across cultural and geographic boundaries, providing in-depth support to a next generation of filmmakers, from development through distribution. Films supported by the Feature Film Program include ‘Whiplash’, ‘Fruitvale Station’, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’, ‘Sin Nombre’, ‘Wadjda’ and ‘The Lunchbox’.

Teresa Cavina – Italy
Film Curator & Industry Consultant

Teresa Cavina is an Italian festival programmer, script analyst and co-production expert. From 1989 to 1997, she was a programmer at the Venice International Film Festival, and in 1998, she moved to the Festival del Film Locarno, which she co-directed from 2001 through 2005. In 2006, she launched the Rome Film Festival, where she was artistic director until 2008. In Rome, she founded the New Cinema Network, an international co-production platform featuring training and support for second-time filmmakers. From 2009 to 2012, Cavina was the artistic director of the Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels (FIPA), and programming director of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival from 2009 to 2014, where she co-created Sanad, a fund that provided support to Arab filmmakers and films relevant to Arab culture and heritage. Currently, she focuses on working closely with filmmakers, producers, script labs and funding bodies, including Premio Solinas (Italy), AFAC (Lebanon) and HAF (Hong Kong). Cavina is also on the reading team for Eurimages.

Selin Murat – France
The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam | Markets Manager

As co-founder of Canadian-based Parabola Films, Selin Murat started her career as a creative producer, producing author-driven documentaries for festivals, theatre, and broadcast. In 2017, Selin became a film programmer and head of Industry at Montreal’s RIDM, where she built strong relationships between Quebec and the international industry. Since the summer of 2021, she has been based in Europe and worked as Markets Manager at Amsterdam’s IDFA, where she runs the design and innovation of the FORUM and DOCS FOR SALE, continuing to support a sustainable ecosystem for the international film industry.


Ben Thompson
Tribeca Film Festival | VP, Shorts Programming

A graduate of Aberystwyth University, Ben left Wales and London to settle in New York. Soon after arriving, he joined the Tribeca Film Festival, where he is currently the VP of Shorts Programming. From the start of his filmmaking career, Ben has always had a keen interest in short-form storytelling. At Tribeca, he discovered a passion for programming and presenting short films to new and engaged audiences. He is fascinated by the influence film has on our world and culture and travels to search out new stories from around the globe. He has watched over 12,000 short films for Tribeca alone.

Eddie Bertozzi – Italy
Locarno Film Festival | Head of Pardi di domani Selection Committee

Eddie Bertozzi holds a Ph.D. in Chinese Film Studies from SOAS, University of London. He served as Program Manager of the Venice International Film Critics’ Week (Venice Film Festival) from 2009 to 2020 and has been a programmer at Filmmaker Festival in Milan since 2017. In 2021, he joined the Locarno Film Festival as Head of the Pardi di Domani Selection Committee and Advisor for the competitive sections. He has also worked in film distribution since 2014 and is currently in charge of acquisitions for the Italian production and distribution company Be Water Film. He is a member of SNCCI (Union of Italian Film Critics) and EFA (European Film Academy).

Julie Rousson – France
Festival & Marché de Clermont-Ferrand | Programmer / Industry Events Coordinator

Julie Rousson holds a master’s degree in cultural project production, with a master’s thesis about the impact of the Internet and numeric revolution on the short film industry. She permanently joined Sauve Qui Peut le Court Métrage, the association behind the Clermont-Ferrand Int’ Short Film Festival, in 2015 after several years working on punctual missions. She is a member of the international competition selection committee, coordinates the industry events at the Short Film Market, especially Euro Connection and the #S H O R T program, and the relation with administrative institutions. She is also a board member of the Short Film Conference.

Lyse Ishimwe Nsengiyumva – The Netherlands
International Film Festival Rotterdam | Programmer

Lyse Ishimwe Nsengiyumva is a programmer for the International Film Festival Rotterdam [IFFR], the Blackstar Film Festival and is the Artistic Director for the Fame Short Film Festival in Cape Town. She is a former film consultant for the Berlinale Forum, and in 2016, she founded Recognition—a Brussels-based community film screening programme that focuses on the work for and by people of African descent.

Nina Rodriguez (Germany/Mexico)
Guanajuato International Film Festival
Head of Programming

Nina Rodríguez is a seasoned international film festival and industry programmer. Originally from Cologne, Germany, where she started working in the music industry, she holds an MA in The Presentation and Preservation of the Moving Image from the University of Amsterdam in close collaboration with EYE Film Archive. Since 2006, Nina has been Head of Programming at the Guanajuato International Film Festival—one of the most important platforms for young filmmakers in Latin America—where she established several talent development initiatives. Having collaborated with the Abu Dhabi Film Festival in the past, she is currently also Industry Programme Manager at Qumra, an initiative of the Doha Film Institute providing mentorship for international film projects from development through post-production.

Nina was a Matchmaker at Cinelink Sarajevo, spoke on panels, served on juries, and curated showcases for festivals including Berlinale Talents, Clermont Ferrand, Torino Short Film Market, Mar del Plata, Tokyo, FNC, El Gouna, CRFIC, FICUNAM, FICG, St. Kilda Festival, Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg, and has participated in the selection of projects for IMCINE and the Peruvian Ministry of Culture. Aside from the festival world, Nina also served as Academic Coordinator for the Pueblo Mágico Mexican Film Residency in Tepoztlán and was an executive producer on Viktor Jakovleski’s ‘Brimstone and Glory’ (2017), which won awards at San Francisco FF and El Gouna. In 2020, she founded Compartimento Cinematografico—an independent cinema in San Miguel de Allende.

Tania El Khoury (France/Lebanon)
Les films de l’Altaï – Khamsin Films

After filmmaking and psychology studies in Beirut, Tania El Khoury moved to Paris in 2002, where she finished a master’s degree in cinema. She then joined the Parisian independent production company Moby Dick Films, with which she worked as legal and financial manager until 2019. In 2017, El Khoury founded the production company Khamsin Films in Beirut, and in 2020 she founded the Paris-based production company Les Films de l’Altaï. She recently produced the latest feature fiction of filmmaker Ghassan Salhab, ‘The River’ (International Competition, Locarno 2021), Sonia Ben Slama’s newest feature documentary ‘Machtat’ (International Competition Visions du Réel, ACID Cannes 2023) and ‘Manity’ by Hussen Ibraheem for which she received the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity x AFAC in 2022.


  • Bitter Sugar – Ana Barjadze, Irina Gelashvili (Georgia, France)
  • Cutting Through Rocks – Sara Khaki, Mohammad Reza Eyni (Iran, Germany, Qatar)
  • House No. 7 – Rama Abdi, Hazar Yazji (Syria, Qatar)
  • I Wished for Solitude – Hamad Alfayhani, Basel Owies, Abdul Jabbar Maki (Short Narrative – Qatar)
  • Liti Liti – Mamadou Khouma Guete, Rosa Spaliviero, Geoffroy Cernaix (Senegal, Belgium)
  • Life Says: Still We Must Live – Isabelle Zarrina Kalandar, Leena Yazdi (Tajikistan)
  • The Myth of Mahmoud – Mayar Hamdan, Shaima Al-Tamimi (Qatar, USA, Lebanon, Palestine, Kenya, Yemen, Jordan)

First Cut Lab

First Cut Lab is a comprehensive training & consultancy programme supporting audiovisual professionals in Europe and worldwide, and their feature films at the editing stage. Created in 2015, First Cut Lab is run by Tatino Films – a company that also initiated the Full Circle Lab and the Pop Up Film Residency.
200 films from 50 countries have so far benefited from First Cut Lab. In 2020, we launched the First Cut+ programme to offer promotional & marketing consultancy to a portfolio of 16 films per year.
By providing a creative framework of exchanges that is simultaneously safe and challenging, First Cut Lab aims at enhancing the artistic achievement of the films, and at the same time at fostering their potential of international circulation. Participants receive expert advise from editor consultants and industry advisors chosen according to the specific needs of each film.