The Ajyal Film Festival this year will showcase 81 films from 36 countries expressing the power of storytelling to transform minds. Being held at Katara Cultural Village in Qatar, the sixth edition of the annual cinema event will have 23 features and 58 shorts, including 24 from the Arab world and 44 by women film-makers.
The Jury Competition line-up at Ajyal 2018 consists of 13 feature films. There are 550 jurors from 55 nationalities including 25 international jurors who will travel to Doha for the event from places such as Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
The opening night’s red carpet was attended by high ranking officials including Doha Film Institute board members Sheikh Thani bin Hamad al Thani and Issa bin Mohammed al Mohannadi and distinguished guests from the region as well as celebrities from the Arab world and international cinema.
The festival will have an assortment of activities including film screenings, insightful Ajyal Talks and family-oriented activities at the Ajyal Creativity Hub. For the first time, the film screenings will also be held at Novo Cinemas, The Pearl, bringing meaningful cinema closer to the audiences.
At the opening ceremony, Fatma Hassan al Remaihi, Festival Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Doha Film Institute, said that Ajyal has cemented its reputation in the cultural scene as a force bringing young and established talents together, and providing them an inspiring platform to present their films and ideas to the public.
“Ajyal Film Festival revives the fundamental spirit of cinema, by connecting people to our shared roots through stories that resonate with our aspirations and hopes. In today’s fast-paced tech era, it is important that we find a true balance between the sublime message of art and the use of technology. Ajyal serves the purpose of bridging this important gap in today’s cultural scene.”
Thanking the leadership of Qatar and all government and private sector entities that inspire and contribute to the success of the festival, she added: “Ajyal Film Festival’s spirit is underlined by its new theme, ‘A Voice for Generations’, and it serves as a space for highlighting the power and responsibility that comes with having a voice and reflects the vision of Qatar’s leadership — and that of the Doha Film Institute — to celebrate the values of openness, mutual dialogue, respect for others and diversity.”
Guests from Qatar who walked the red carpet include: Ali Abdulsatar, Faleh Fayaz, Saad Burshaid, Ahmad al Maadeed, among others. Guests from the region and international cinema included: Evangeline Lily, Engin Altan Duzyatan, Bulent Inal, Shuaib Rashed, Saleh Zaal, Mohammad al Hamli, and Muna Shaddad, among others.
In line with its overarching theme, the Ajyal Film Festival 2018 opened with Freedom Fields (Libya, UK, Netherlands, USA, Qatar, Lebanon, Canada/2018), a compelling story about three brave women and their efforts to build a football team in post-revolution Libya, even as the country descends into civil
war. Directed by Naziha Arebi, the DFI-supported film was nominated for the Best Documentary Award at the Stockholm Film Festival 2018.
The screening of the film also builds on the aspirations of the Supreme Committee for Qatar 2022 to deliver the first-ever Fifa World Cup in the Middle East, and coincides with the symbolic handover year of the World Cup from Russia to Qatar.
At the opening ceremony, Ajyal Film Festival also paid rich tribute to legendary actors Abdul Aziz Jassim, who passed away recently. A special ‘Abdul Aziz Jassim Best Actor Award’ has been instituted for the best performance in a film in the ‘Made in Qatar’ presented by Ooredoo programme.
The programme also includes a special ‘Made in Russia’ segment to mark the 2018 Qatar — Russia Year of Culture. Keenly awaited is the ‘Made in Qatar’ presented by Ooredoo programme that celebrates the talents of Qatari and Qatar-based film-makers, which underlines homegrown talent and the robust state of film-making in the country.