Doha Film Institute’s Qumra Event Kicks Off With Messages Of Solidarity For Gaza

Doha Film Institute’s Qumra Event Kicks Off With Messages Of Solidarity For Gaza

The Doha Film Institute (DFI) kicked off its 10th Qumra talent and project incubator meeting on a somber note on Friday as its organizers spoke out about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Some 200 international industry professionals are due to attend the Qatari event, running from March 1 to 6, to nurture 40 projects by emerging filmmakers. The event is a cornerstone of the DFI’s activities.

“While we celebrate the progress that we have made in nurturing new voices in cinema, we are also confronted with the genocide in Gaza and the ongoing attempts to silence the voices crying out against it,” said DFI CEO Fatma Hassan Al Remaihi.

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“This cultural genocide is a profound reminder of our responsibility as a global community to ensure that all voices are heard, and all lives are treated with dignity and respect.”

Hassan Al Remaihi was speaking the day after Gaza authorities accused Israeli soldiers of killing at least 100 people as they queued for food relief in Gaza City.

Israel said the deaths were the result of trampling and that its troops fired after they felt threatened by crowds. The country’s military action in Gaza is in response to a Hamas terror attack in southern Israel on October 7, in which 1,200 people were killed and another 240 taken hostage.

According to Gaza’s Hamas-run health authorities, more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in the territory over the past 147 days.

These figures have been contested in some quarters but U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin told a congressional hearing on Thursday that at least 25,000 women and children had been killed.

“While the situation continues to worsen in Palestine and countries throughout the region including Yemen, Lebanon, Sudan and Syria, providing a platform to acknowledge the courage and resilience of those fighting against oppression becomes even more important,” said Hassan Al Remaihi.

“The Doha Film Institute has always been and will remain dedicated to realising important stories and amplifying unheard voices that connect us in our shared humanity. We are proud to be on the journey with these bold and evocative projects that will impact our societies for years to come.”

There are a number of projects by Palestinian filmmakers at Qumra this year including Ahmad Saleh’s Trouble Magnet, about a teenager who rides an imaginary donkey from Palestine to Germany; Gaza-born Mohammed Almughanni’s doc Son of the Streets, about a stateless child living a Beirut refugee camp; Mayar Hamdan and Shaima Al Tamimi’s The Myth of Mahmoud about a Palestinian family that has called Doha its home for 60 years and is now contemplating its next move, and  Saleh Saadi’s TV series Dyouf, about a family run guesthouse in their Bedouin village.

DFI Artistic Advisor Elia Suleiman said Qumra offered a space for reflection.

“Qumra offers the opportunity to ask what must be done to take responsibility, and a moral and ethical position on what films enable us to discuss about genocides, massacres and horrible violence around the world,” he said.

“Here we have the benefit of distance from what is going on [in the region]. It allows the questioning of what must be done in the context of storytelling, and in the context of asking cinematic questions as we tell our stories. This is the right time to contemplate, meditate and take a solemn moment but also start to converse and discuss aesthetics to somehow have some inspiration and creativity.”

Qumra’s program of masterclasses, one-on-one meetings and networking kicked off on Friday afternoon with a masterclass by Toni Collette, in which she discussed her journey from a working class neighborhood in Sydney to becoming Hollywood star.

The 40 participating projects hail from and 20 countries span include 13 feature narratives, 11 documentaries, 11 shorts and 7 web/TV series in various stages of production. Among the projects, 11 are helmed by Qatari or Qatar-based directors, including seven by nationals.