The Doha Film Institute (DFI) has announced the recipients of its Spring 2022 grant programme, supporting 44 projects from 33 countries in its latest funding round.
Three of the recipients – Lotfy Nathan’s HarkaChie Hayakawa Diet 75 and that of Davy Chou All the people I’ll ever be – play in Un Certain Regard at Cannes.
Another grant recipient – Suzannah Mirghani cotton queen – takes part in the Cannes program L’Atelier.
The DFI Grant Program is awarded in two annual cycles – Spring and Fall. It is the oldest film funding program in the Middle East and aims to train filmmakers and identify new talent.
To date, more than 650 film projects from 74 countries have benefited from DFI funding rounds, which began in 2011.
“We are always on the lookout for originality, new angles and points of view,” said Fatma Al Remaihi, CEO of the Doha Film Institute. Filter. “New perspectives and innovative ways of telling a story are of particular importance.”
“We are always focused on new talent,” added DFI’s Director of Strategy and Development, Hanaa Issa. “There are different criteria, but most of our focus is on beginners or second-placers.”
Projects from countries such as Algeria, Chile, Greenland, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Switzerland, Ukraine, USA and Yemen received grants. For the first time, a film project from the Comoros received a grant.
Nine directors who received grants this year are recurring recipients, either of past grants or of support from DFI’s Qumra, its annual talent incubator event.
Some 45 DFI-backed projects, including short films, feature films and TV series, were supported this year through the annual talent and project incubator Qumra held online from 18 to March 23.
The organization’s other key financial arm, the Qatari Film Fund, caters to Qatari, national and resident filmmakers.
The recipients of the Spring 2022 grants are (loglines provided by DFI):
MENA – Narrative – Development
- Feet (Qatar) by Mahdi Ali Ali, which focuses the camera on two individuals in two respectable careers, one on stage, a ballerina, and the other on the pitch, a footballer.
- The other woman [working title] (Qatar, France) by Meriem Mesraoua about Salima who faces the fragility of her long-held image and takes extreme measures to save the illusory refuge of her marriage.
- The smell of my father (Egypt, Norway, Qatar) by Mohamed Siam, about a father who returns home after a long absence due to his sudden illness and treatment.
- Yunan (Palestine, Germany, Syria, France, Italy, Qatar) by Ameer Fakher Eldin, in which an exiled Syrian author travels to a remote island in Germany to commit suicide.
MENA – Feature film narration – Production
- cotton queen (Sudan, Palestine, Germany, France, Qatar) by Suzannah Mirghani. The film takes place in a village of cotton producers in Sudan, where Nafisa, 15, is forced to negotiate between modernity and tradition in a desire for personal choice.
- gray glow (Lebanon, France, Qatar) by Michèle Tyan, about Nayla, who struggles to keep her family afloat in a sinking Beirut.
- Layla in dreamland (United Kingdom, Qatar) by Céline Cotran about Layla, a 60-year-old Syrian refugee and housekeeper at the Dreamland amusement park, whose life is turned upside down when she meets a young boy from the neighborhood who teaches her to skateboarding.
- The 67th summer (France, Egypt, Germany, Qatar) by Abu Bakr Shawky, in which a boy, aspiring pianist and passionate footballer, begins to write letters to a young girl in another corner of the world.
- The last days of RM. (Algeria, France, Qatar) by Amin Sidi-Boumédiène about RM, a writer threatened with death in Algeria in the 1990s. He decides to go into exile in France, in the suburbs of Paris.
MENA – Feature Narrative – Post-production
- Harka (Egypt, France, Tunisia, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Qatar) by Lotfy Nathan, about Ali, a young Tunisian who dreams of a better life while living precariously selling contraband gasoline.
NON-MENA – Narrative of the feature film – Post-production
- 1976 (Chile, Argentina, Qatar) by Manuela Martelli. Set in Chile in 1976, the film tells the story of Carmen, who goes to the beach to oversee the renovation of her family’s house.
- All the people I’ll ever be (France, Germany, Belgium, South Korea, Romania, Qatar) by Davy Chou in which Freddie returns for the first time to South Korea, her birthplace, before being adopted and brought up in France.
- Diet 75 (Japan, France, Philippines, Qatar) by Chie Hayakawa takes place in a Japan of the near future, where the government program “Plan 75” encourages the voluntary euthanasia of seniors.
- Rapture (India, China, Switzerland, Netherlands) by Dominic Megam Sangma, in which the fear of child kidnappers takes hold of a village. At the same time, the church prophesies the coming of apocalyptic darkness that will last 80 days.
MENA – Feature Documentary – Development
- Grain of sand (Morocco, France, Qatar) by Nadja Anane, about Figuig, which was cut in half when France drew the border between Morocco and Algeria.
- Mother Street (Morocco, France) by Benhachem El Mouêtassim Billah, about homeless Moroccan children fleeing the streets of Casablanca for the Goutte d’Or slum in Paris, in the hope of finding a better life.
MENA – Feature Documentary – Production
- let’s play soldiers (Yemen, Qatar) by Mariam Al-Dhubhani, in which Nasser, a child soldier from Yemen tries to find his place in his community, where the ongoing war has forced him to become the guardian of the fate of his cadets.
- sons of the streets (Palestine, Poland, Lebanon, Ukraine, Qatar) by Mohammed Almughanni, which follows the life of Palestinian child Khodor aged 14 to 18 as he grows up without an identity card in the Chatila refugee camp in Beirut.
MENA – Feature documentary – Post-production
- Behind closed doors (Morocco, Qatar) by Yakout Elhababi, a portrait of a farming family living in Morocco’s most marginalized region, the Rif Mountains, where their livelihood comes exclusively from growing cannabis.
- Qatar Stars (USA, Qatar) by Danielle Beverly, set in a rhythmic gymnastics school for girls in Doha run by a former Russian gymnast, which offers a space for emancipation and freedom.
- jump the wall (Morocco, Qatar) by Mohamed Zineddaine, a video diary in which the filmmaker explores the universal theme of the border.
NON-MENA – Feature documentary – Post-production
- After the bridge (Italy, France, Qatar) by Marzia Toscano, about Valeria Collina, an Italian convert to Islam, who returns to live in Italy after twenty years in Morocco.
- between the revolutions (Romania, Iran, Croatia, Qatar) by Vlad Petri, in which two former university comrades and friends, an Iranian and a Romanian, write letters to each other.
- Polaris (France, Greenland, Qatar) by Ainara Vera, on Hayat, an expert Arctic sailor, who sails away from humans and her destructive family past in France.