Doha, Qatar; February 22, 2023: Qumra 2023, the Doha Film Institute’s annual industry incubator event for emerging talent from around the world, will celebrate new voices in cinema with eight outstanding feature films supported by the Institute’s initiatives. The screenings take place March 10th to 15th at the Museum of Islamic Art Auditorium.
Fatma Hassan Alremaihi, Chief Executive Officer of the Doha Film Institute, said: “We are delighted to share these incredible films that have deeply impacted cinema lovers across the world. From Qumra Master Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s award-winning film, Memoria, to works representing our region’s rich history and complex present, Qumra Screenings provide crucial cultural and artistic context to both Qumra delegates and public audiences of independent films. Qumra Screenings are an integral part of the mission of our annual industry event to nurture emerging filmmakers through their script-to-screen journey.”
On March 10, at 7.00 PM, the Qumra Screenings will kick off with The Dam (France, Sudan, Lebanon, Germany, Serbia, Qatar) by Lebanese visual artist and filmmaker Ali Cherri. Set in North Sudan’s Merowe dam, the film is about Maher, a seasonal worker employed in a traditional brickyard downstream. Each evening, Maher secretly wanders off into the desert to erect a mud construction. One day his creature disappears, and his life turns strange.
Under The Fig Trees (Tunisia, Switzerland, Qatar, France) by Erige Sehiri will be screened at 9.30 PM. It is about Melek and her friends who work in the field during the summer to pay for their education and help their families. Between the fig trees, under the gaze of older workers and young men, they reveal themselves on the threshold of an adult life which will remain forbidden to them.
Tug of War (Tanzania, South Africa, Germany, Qatar) by Amil Shivji is about a runaway Indian-Zanzibari bride who forms a strong bond with a young communist in the winding alleyways of 1950s British colonial Zanzibar, leading to the escalation of love and resistance. The screening is on March 11 at 7 PM, on the same night as Mediterranean Fever (Palestine, France, Germany, Qatar) by Maha Haj, which will screen at 9:30 PM. The film is about a 40-year-old Palestinian man from Haifa, trying to be a writer. He is unhappily married with children and is deeply depressed. He befriends his neighbour and gradually convinces him to assist him in committing suicide.
Riverbed (Lebanon, Qatar) by Emmy award-winning scriptwriter and director Bassem Breche narrates the story of Salma and her returning daughter Thuraya, and their attempt to preserve, maintain and reconstruct their lives with and against each other. The past does not let go of Salma and brings back Thuraya, defeated, divorced, and pregnant. The screening will be on March 12 at 7.30 PM followed by a Q&A session with the director/ talent.
Watch the marvellous Faye Dayi (Ethiopia, United States of America, Qatar) directed by Jessica Beshir, on March 13 at 7.30 PM, a spiritual journey immersed in the rituals of khat – a fantasy inducing leaf that has become the most lucrative cash crop in Ethiopia. The film employs the khat-trade as a structural frame, and the high of khat as a visual key into the Oromo struggle for self-determination.
Qumra Master Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s directorial venture with David Bauduin, Memoria (Colombia, Thailand, United Kingdom, Mexico, France, Germany, Qatar) will screen on March 14 at 7.30 PM. The winner of the Cannes Film Festival 2021 Prix du Jury and several other global awards stars another Qumra Master, Tilda Swinton. Jessica (Swinton) is unable to sleep ever since being startled by a loud noise at daybreak. In Bogotá to visit her sister, she befriends Agnes (Jeanne Balibar), an archaeologist studying human remains discovered within a tunnel under construction. Jessica travels to see Agnes at the excavation site. In a small town nearby, she encounters a fish scaler, Hernan (Elkin Diaz). They share memories by the river. As the day comes to a close, Jessica is awakened to a sense of clarity.
The final Qumra Screening, on March 15 at 7.30 PM, is that of the mesmerising film, The Last Queen (Algeria, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia) directed by Damien Ounouri and Adila Bendimerad. Set in Algeria in 1516, the film charts the story of Aruj Barbarossa, who frees Algiers from the tyranny of the Spanish and seizes power over the kingdom. Rumour has it he murdered the King Salim Toumi, despite their alliance. Against all odds, one woman will stand up to him: Queen Zaphira. Between history and legend, this woman’s journey tells of a struggle, of personal and political turmoil endured for the sake of Algiers.
Multi-award-winning British playwright, screenwriter, and director Christopher Hampton (The Father, Dangerous Liaisons, Atonement); veteran film, TV and theatre producer David Parfitt (The Father, Shakespeare in Love, My Week with Marilyn, Loving Vincent); visionary costume designer Jacqueline West (Dune, The Revenant, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button); award-winning Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin, You Were Never Really Here, Ratcatcher); and critically acclaimed British filmmaker Michael Winterbottom (The Road to Guantanamo, A Mighty Heart, Welcome to Sarajevo) are this year’s Qumra Masters.
Qumra Masterclasses and Qumra Screenings are accessible to the public through purchase of the Qumra Pass priced at QAR XXX. Tickets for individual Qumra Screenings can be purchased for QR35 online at www.dohafilminstitute.com.