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Doha Film Institute Provides 27 New Film Grants for MENA Projects

Nov 20, 2012

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2012 Fall Session to Support Emerging and Established Arab Filmmakers

Projects include exciting new works from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco and Syria

11 feature films, 5 short films, 9 feature documentaries and 2 experimental feature films supported in this funding session

Doha, Qatar; November 19, 2012: Doha Film Institute (DFI) has announced funding for 27 new MENA projects as part of its fall grants session. The grants, selected from a record high of 211 applicants for this submission cycle, range across development, production and postproduction.

The 27 projects supported include a diverse range of powerful and culturally authentic stories reflecting the diversity of new and more established filmmaking voices within the MENA region. This session has seen a significant rise in the number of applications requesting financial support compared with the Spring 2012 session.

The Fall grantees also reflect a wide range of nationalities with recipients from more established filmmaking cultures including Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon and Morocco as well as from Jordan, Syria and for the first time, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Eleven feature films, five short fiction films, nine feature documentaries and two experimental feature films from a combination of both new and established filmmakers were awarded grants to support Arab storytelling. Many creative, innovative and challenging projects that would struggle to be produced otherwise have also received financial support to fund their works.

This year’s Fall grantees cover a diverse array of genres and powerful stories – including emotional dramas about family issues, a story of everyday life in Algiers, films about memory loss and immigration, a black comedy of errors, a comedy about reincarnation and contemporary stories that deal with the harsh realities of life.

The feature narrative section includes auteur driven projects such as Merzak Allouache’s Terraces and Ghassan Salhab’s The Valley, as well as emotional dramas such as Pillow Secrets and a number of projects that handle serious themes in an illuminating and sympathetic way including immigration in Die Welt and the Iraqi/Kurdish feature Memory on Stone about the Kurdish genocide in Iraq.

Comedies also feature heavily in the narrative feature section with projects such as Ali, the Goat & Ibrahim, Red Valentine and Me Memories, Myself & Murdoch all securing funding.

Documentary recipients tackle high profile and important political events in the region – with films such as Egypt’s Modern Pharaohs, Gaddafi’s Girls and Democracy Year Zero discussing the Egyptian revolution in 1952 to the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak, a portrait of the women force/brigade that Gaddafi used to employ as bodyguards and the Tunisian uprising against the authoritarian regime of Z.A. Ben Ali.

The documentary category also features films which discuss the often-difficult challenges people face in the region from financial struggles in the poorest areas in Cairo in What Comes Around, to uniting young people of different backgrounds from the Middle East’s turmoil in The First Supper.

DFI CEO Abdulaziz Al-Khater, said: “One of DFI’s main goals is to support and facilitate filmmakers from the MENA region in getting their films made and their stories heard. Many of these stories are reflective of the social and political changes happening in our region and show the unique power of film as a medium to express this. We’re really encouraged by the breadth and depth of submissions from this session and as we continue to fine-tune our MENA Grants process, we will ensure we can support an even more dynamic slate in the future.”

Paul Miller, Head of Film Financing at DFI, added: “The MENA grants were established to help first and second time filmmakers gain financing and to help more established filmmakers get support for artistic works which might otherwise struggle to secure funding. Our 27 grantees are a blend of new and established filmmakers and they really depict the passion and determination of filmmakers in this region to tell their own authentic stories – from black comedies to political events, family dramas and changing societies. Their projects really give us a compelling taste of modern storytelling in this region.”

Reem Al-Wohaibi, a producer from Qatar, has also been awarded a postproduction grant for her feature documentary “Somebody Clap for Me,” for its original look at an old Ugandan tradition and how this has been revived via open-mic poetry events and hip-hop music.

Short film entries were particularly strong this session illustrating the emergence of some new young filmmakers in the region who displayed unique cinematic vision and culturally authentic stories in such projects as “The Desert Fish,” about a family’s relationship and the pursuit of individual identity, and “The Third Hand,” about a daughter sacrificing her own future for the sake of her family.

To further enhance and progress the MENA grants outreach, DFI’s grants team is aiming to further help filmmakers in Qatar and the Gulf Region by providing more mentoring initiatives. DFI’s Gulf Development Unit (GDU) is planning a new biannual workshop to run three months prior to the Fall and Spring Grants submission opening for Qatari nationals with qualifying projects to aid potential grantees in how to develop and package their films for funding.

In addition, for Fall grantees, two students from local Universities in Qatar were selected to attend the deliberation session to participate in the evaluation and discussion of projects with DFI script readers as committee members to aid in the training of script writing and critical thinking.

The 27 grants are awarded to films which contribute in fostering creative and innovative cinematic experience, show original and compelling Arab language projects and can develop know-how in the Qatari local industry.

The next funding session for MENA Grant recipients will open in late December 2012 for the Spring 2013 session. Results will be announced at next year’s Cannes International Film Festival.

A full list of the 2012 Fall Grantees is below.

2012 Fall Grantees:


The Bastard
Uda Benyamina (Morocco, France)

Marjoun and the Flying Headscarf
Susan Youssef (Lebanon, USA)

Me, Myself and Murdoch
Yahya Alabdallah (Jordan, Palestine)

Red Valentine
Amin Matalqa(Jordan, USA)

Wooden Rifle
Alfouz Tanjour (Syria)


Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim
Ibrahim El Batout, (Egypt, France, Germany)

Memories on Stone
Shawkat Amin Korki, (Iraq, Australia, Germany, Sweden)

Pillow Secrets
Jillali Ferhati , (Morocco)

Merzak Allouache, (Algeria)

The Valley
Ghassan Salhab, (Lebanon)


Die Welt
Karim Alexander Pitstra, (Tunisia, Netherlands, Russia)


Mohamed Ben Attia,(Tunisia)

The Desert Fish
Alaa Eddine Aljem, (Morocco, France, Belgium)

The Third Hand
Hicham Elladdaqi, (Morocco, France)


Nora Alsharif, (Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine)

Though I Know The River Is Dry
Omar Hamilton, (Egypt, Palestine)


Gaddafi’s Girls
Sylvia Stevens, (Libya, United Kingdom)

The First Supper
Jamal Khalaile and Pauline Carbonnier, (Palestine, France)


A Djelfa-Dweller’s Dreams
David Yon, (Morocco, Algeria, France)

Egypt’s Modern Pharaohs
Jihan El Tahri, (Egypt, France, USA)

Stars and Extras
Marwa Astanios, (Lebanon, Egypt)

What Comes Around
Reem Saleh, (Lebanon, Egypt, UAE)


Democracy Year Zero
Amira Chebli and Christophe Cotteret, (Tunisia, Belgium, France)

Somebody Clap For Me
Luciana Farah, (Qatar, Brazil, Uganda, USA)

Ahmed Nour, (Egypt, Morocco)


Dancing Beirut
Alia Hamdan, (Lebanon)


I Sold My Land
Reine Mitri, (Lebanon)