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First Cut Lab - 2022

Start date:
Jun 06, 2022
Ability Level:

This special online ‘First Cut Lab’ is designed to assist three feature films (fiction/documentary) from Qatar or the MENA region and one short film from Qatar in the editing phase. The main goal is to foster the artistic potential of the selected rough cuts and, at the same time, to increase the sales, festival, and circulation potential of the completed films.

Selected producer/director/editor teams will screen their full rough cut and be given expert feedback on their edit from three international film advisors (creative producers, festival programmers, sales agents, etc.) as well as tailor-made advice from a consultant editor. Participants will discuss their materials and receive productive inputs both in one-to-one meetings and in small groups via video-conferencing platforms.

The lab consists of a one-day (for shorts) or two-day (for features) workshop tailored individually to each project, preceded by a brief preparatory meeting. At the end of the lab, creative teams are provided with a written memo report, that serves as guidance to further work on the edit and post-production of their films. Participants will be selected based on the strength of their films, vision and approach, as well as their previous work.

Application Deadline: 14 May 2022

The sessions will be scheduled with selected participants in the period between 6 and 18 June. Each project will have its own dedicated lab session, lasting one full day (for shorts) or two full days (for features). Applicants should have somewhat flexible availability to accommodate one or two full lab days during the programme duration. Dates will be assigned to each project and confirmed after the selection process.

Tentative dates per project:

  • Preparatory meetings for all projects: 6 June 2022 (online)
  • Full-day mentorship sessions for the first feature film: 9 & 10 June 2022 (online)
  • Full-day mentorship sessions for the second feature film: 13 & 14 June 2022 (online)
  • Full-day mentorship sessions for the third feature film: 16 & 17 June 2022 (online)
  • Full-day mentorship sessions for short film: 18 June 2022 (online)

Please note that for each film, the main mentorship sessions span the entire day as mentioned above. Each selected film will be assigned specific dates for their main session of the lab. A compulsory one-hour preparatory session will take place online with each creative team one week before their main session.

Workshop Schedule – Feature Films:
First day:
10:00-12:00 / Individual feedbacks given by each of the three advisors
14:00-16:30 / Collective discussion moderated by the head of the lab

Second day:
10:00-12:00 / Working session with editor consultant, part 1
14:00-16:00 / Working session with editor consultant, part 2
16:00-16:30 / Wrap-up session of the lab

Workshop Schedule – Short Film:
14:00-16:30 / Individual feedbacks and collective discussion moderated by the head of the lab
17:00 – 20:00 / Working Session with editor consultant

Lab Fee*: 800 QAR (feature projects), 400 QAR (short film projects)
*Qatar Museums Culture Pass members will receive a 10% discount on this lab’s fee. To avail of the discount, simply include a copy of your Culture Pass when applying.

Language: English
Group Size: A creative team of 2 or 3 participants per film (director, producer, and editor)
Level: Advanced

Lab Programme

Preparatory Session
The preparatory session will begin with a brief introduction and state the objectives of the lab. The First Cut Lab director and the editor consultant will then consult with the members of each creative team about their expectations for the lab—assessing the current stage of their rough cut and discussing the unique difficulties and challenges their project may face.

Main session
The main session of the lab consists of two intensive days of diverse online consultations.

Day 1
Morning: participants will receive invaluable, elaborated feedbacks from each of the three international film mentors, who will have watched the rough cut the day before and reflected on the points they want to address.

Afternoon: the director of the lab will initiate and moderate a collective discussion, after drawing a summary of the feedback from the morning and identify the topics that would deserve to be further discussed in a plenary exchange.

Day 2
The second day is composed of two half-day one-to-one working slots with the consultant editor. Building upon the many feedbacks of the day before, the consultant editor will dig deeper into the film materials, also going through the film timeline in detail. In agreement with the intentions of the creative team—that will have reflected on the exchanges from the day before—a series of practical editing suggestions will be provided. The goal is for the creative teams to leave the lab with renewed energy, confidence and increased awareness in the identity and strength of their materials, and excitement with the prospect of experimenting with new editing approaches.

A week after the main session, the participants will be provided with a written memo report, that serves as guidance to further work on the edit and post-production of their films.

Submission Requirements:

  1. Application Document (as one PDF or word document)

    • Project Dossier, including:

      • Applicant name, project title, email address and phone number
      • Synopsis
      • Director’s note
      • Key crew & bios
      • Production company information
      • Film stills
      • Supplementary materials as desired (trailer, etc.)

    • A letter outlining your motivation to participate in the lab, describing the project’s current stage and its primary needs.

    • Link(s) to director’s previous work

    • Video material for your project:

      • This can be selected scenes, first assembly or rough cut
      • Minimum duration 30 minutes for feature films and 8 minutes for shorts
      • Subtitled in English
      • Must be available via a password-protected streaming service (e.g. Vimeo). No transfer services or cloud storage will be accepted.

  2. Copy of Passport or government-issued ID for participating creative team members (director, producer, and editor)

Please send in Word or PDF format to on or before 14 May 2022.
Please include your full name, project title, email and contact number in all text documents.


  • The First Cut Lab is designed for creative teams (director, producer, and editor) with a film at the editing stage. The project can be in different stages of post-production, though it is highly recommended to be in the early editing phase.
  • The project director must be from Qatar or the MENA region, or a DFI grant recipient
  • DFI grant recipients are especially encouraged to apply.


Matthieu Darras
Lab Advisor

Matthieu Darras designs and leads several programs of film/talent development and consultancy that are active worldwide: the First Cut Lab, the Pop Up Film Residency, and the Full Circle Lab. Previously, he founded and directed the European Network of Young Cinema NISI MASA, wrote for the film magazine Positif, and was the artistic director of the TorinoFilmLab. Matthieu Darras worked for major film festivals in Europe: as a programmer for the Cannes Critics’ Week, as a consultant for the Venice Film Festival, and as a delegate for the San Sebastian Film Festival. He also directed the Bratislava Film Festival.

Benjamin Mirguet
Editor Mentor

Benjamin Mirguet is an editor, trainer, director, festival programmer. As an editor, he was involved in projects as ‘Batalla En El Cielo’ by Carlos Reygadas, ‘Meteora’ by Spiros Stathoulopoulos, ’40 Days Of Silence’ by Saodat Ismailova, ‘Dau’ by Ilya Khrzhanovski, ‘Deadweight’ by Axel Koenzen, ‘The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers’ by Ben Rivers, ‘Together Forever’ by Lina Luzyte and ‘Rey’ by Niles Atallah, premiering in international festivals such as Cannes, Berlin, Locarno, Rotterdam and Karlovy Vary. Since 2015, he runs First Cut Lab together with Matthieu Darras. In 2017, he developed and served as a tutor for the Trailer Workshop in Istanbul together with Gulin Ustun, which focuses on training editors and producers to design the marketing of their films, including cutting a trailer. In 2018, he was editing tutor for five projects at QUMRA (Doha Film Institute), a workshop dedicated to films in postproduction. He was part of the selection committee for Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes in 2010 and 2011. He also collaborated with CPH:DOX Copenhagen Documentary Film Festival programming team in 2011. He directed the short film The Dead Hear Not The Bells (2006) which premiered in Angers Premiers Plans and IFFR.

Sebastian Sepúlveda
Editor Mentor

Sepúlveda lived the first 18 years of his life between Europe and South America due to his family’s exile from Chile during the military regime. On return to Santiago in 1990, he began studying history. Towards the end of the 1990s, Sepúlveda studied screenwriting at La Fémis in Paris and editing at EICTV in Cuba. He was involved in editing several films in the 2000s (‘La Leon’ and ‘Young and Wild’). Sepúlveda’s directorial debut was ‘The Quispe Girls’ (2013), produced by Juan de Dios and Pablo Larraín. ‘The Quispe Girls’ screened at the Venice Film Festival Critics’ Week, where it won Best Cinematography. In 2015 he edited ‘The Club’, which won the Silver Bear at the Berlinale. He was nominated to the Spirits Awards in 2017 for the editing of ‘Jackie’, and is currently working on the editing of Pablo Larrain’s new film, ‘Ema’.

Industry Advisors

Aranka Matits – The Netherlands
Featurette | Acquisitions

Aranka is the founder of boutique agency Featurette. She works with a roster of theatrical distributors across Europe, and past clients range from sales agents to multinational broadcasters to streamers. Aranka is an EAVE Puentes and Inside Pictures alumni, as well as a voting member of the European Film Academy. Originally from Cologne, she obtained a PhD in New York and is currently based in Amsterdam.

Featurette advises on acquisitions, co-productions, and strategic planning. Notable acquisitions credits range from Oscar winners ‘Parasite’ or ‘Another Round’ to ‘Shoplifters’ (Palme d’Or) or ‘L‘Événement’ (Golden Lion) to ‘First Cow’ and ‘The Souvenir’ (Sundance Grand Jury Prize) to ‘Drive My Car’ (Golden Globe).

Bob Moore – Canada
EyeSteelFilm | Co-president / Creative Producer

Bob Moore is Co-President and Creative Producer at EyeSteelFilm in Montreal, where he has produced over 40 feature documentaries since 2008. Together with his talented partners and collaborators, he has been the recipient of over 100 international awards, including Emmys, Cinema Eyes, Golden Horses, Owls, Phoenixes, and a variety of other celebratory animal-themed prizes. He’s been the subject of a Producer’s Spotlight at the Cannes Marché du Film and is currently an advisor and mentor working with the Sundance Film Festival, IDFA, DMZ docs South Korea, QUMRA, Tokyo Docs, Dhaka DocLab Bangladesh, Hot Docs, and RIDM.

EyeSteelFilm is a film and interactive media company dedicated to using cinematic expression as a catalyst for social and political change. It was created to develop cinema that empowers people who are ignored by mainstream media, a mandate that has taken the company to explore projects, people, and ideas around the world.

Catherine Bizern – France
Cinéma du réel festival | CEO and Artistic Director

After the Rencontres du cinéma documentaire in Seine Saint Denis, Catherine Bizern directed the International Film Festival EntreVues in Belfort from 2006 to 2012. She then programmed various events, including Cinéma du Québec in Paris and Le Jour le plus Court, and collaborated with the Locarno Festival. Since 2000, she has also worked as an independent producer and consultant in film writing. She also intervenes in various training courses and collaborates with the magazine Art Press.In September 2018, she was appointed chief executive officer and artistic director of the Cinéma du réel festival and became artistic director of the Centre des écritures cinématographiques at the Moulin d’Andé.

Carla Vulpiani – Italy
Venice Biennale | Short Film Advisor

Carla Vulpiani holds a BA in Cinema History and Criticism. She works as a Film programmer, Project Manager in production, and Sales Agent for short films, especially animation. She’s currently in charge of sales at Varicoloured and works as a Project Manager for Torino Short Film Market and And Maps And Plans studio limited, for which she is developing the feature animated ‘Piece’. Since 2021 she has been a Short Film Advisor for the Venice International Film Festival.

Julie Rousson – France
Festival & Marché de Clermont-Ferrand | Programmer / Industry Events Coordinator

Julie Rousson holds a master’s degree in cultural project production, with a master’s thesis about the impact of the Internet and numeric revolution on the short film industry. She permanently joined Sauve Qui Peut le Court Métrage, the association behind the Clermont-Ferrand Int’ Short Film Festival, in 2015 after several years working on punctual missions. She is a member of the international competition selection committee, coordinates the industry events at the Short Film Market, especially Euro Connection and the #S H O R T program, and the relation with administrative institutions. She is also a board member of the Short Film Conference.

Mads K. Mikkelsen – Denmark
Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival | Head of Programme

Mads K. Mikkelsen is Head of Programme at CPH:DOX – Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival. Besides programming CPH:DOX, he runs various parallel screening series and cinema clubs, teaches film history at the Danish Film School, and is a frequent contributor to national and international magazines and publications about film. In 2018, he published his first book about cinema. At the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, he received an award for his work as a programmer from Festival de Cannes – Marché du film and Screen International.

Martina Droandi – Austria
Autlook Filmsales | Sales & Acquisitions

Martina is a sales agent specialised in documentary film distribution. She joined Autlook Film Sales in 2019, after working in the film industry in several European countries, including France, the United Kingdom, Spain & Germany.

Autlook Film Sales is one of the leading sales agents for feature documentaries, hybrids and doc series. Since its inception in 2006, Autlook has been building a strong and varied network of partners, including digital platforms, theatrical distributors, broadcasters and festivals. We attend all major festivals and markets, currently representing films like: ‘Belushi’ by R.J. Cutler’ Writing With Fire’ by Rintu Thomas & Sushmit Ghosh, Sundance 2021 awarded ‘All Light, Everywhere’ by Theo Anthony, Sundance 2021 awarded ‘The Painter and the Thief’ by Benjamin Ree, 93rd Oscars® shortlist ‘For Sama’ by Waad Al Kateab and Edward Watts, Golden Eyes Best documentary Cannes 2019 + 47 awards, Emmy® Awarded, 92nd Oscars® nominee The Box Office hit ‘Caught in the Net’ by Vít Klusák, Barbora Chalupová ‘Of Fathers and Sons’ by Talal Derki, 91st Oscars® nominee. Autlook offers a full spectrum of in-house customised distribution, sales and festival strategies that help maximise revenues, audience engagement that fosters filmmakers’ careers and an endless passion for the art of documentaries.

Matthew Takata – USA
Sundance Institute | Assistant Director, Feature Film Program, International

Matthew Takata is the Assistant Director for the Feature Film Program’s international work at the Sundance Institute. His focus is on international outreach and selection for the Institute’s Screenwriters and Directors Labs in Utah, FFP’s international labs, which have included India, Jordan, Greece, Mexico and Cuba, and the annual Sundance/NHK Award. Previously, Takata worked in development at GK Films, following a stint at Key Creatives and International Creative Management. Takata attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program has supported many of the leading independent filmmakers of the past 30 years whose distinctive, singular films have engaged audiences worldwide. The Institute’s guiding values of risk-taking and freedom of expression have broadened to include American and international artists in a meaningful and vibrant dialogue across cultural and geographic boundaries, providing in-depth support to a next generation of filmmakers, from development through distribution. Films supported by the Feature Film Program include ‘Whiplash’, ‘Fruitvale Station’, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’, ‘Sin Nombre’, ‘Wadjda’ and ‘The Lunchbox’.

Teresa Cavina – Italy
Film Curator & Industry Consultant

Teresa Cavina is an Italian festival programmer, script analyst and co-production expert. From 1989 to 1997, she was a programmer at the Venice International Film Festival, and in 1998, she moved to the Festival del Film Locarno, which she co-directed from 2001 through 2005. In 2006, she launched the Rome Film Festival, where she was artistic director until 2008. In Rome, she founded the New Cinema Network, an international co-production platform featuring training and support for second-time filmmakers. From 2009 to 2012, Cavina was the artistic director of the Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels (FIPA), and programming director of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival from 2009 to 2014, where she co-created Sanad, a fund that provided support to Arab filmmakers and films relevant to Arab culture and heritage. Currently, she focuses on working closely with filmmakers, producers, script labs and funding bodies, including Premio Solinas (Italy), AFAC (Lebanon) and HAF (Hong Kong). Cavina is also on the reading team for Eurimages.


  • Qatar Stars – Danielle Beverly, Jawaher Moawda (Feature Documentary – Qatar, USA)
  • Kinship – Ali Alhajri, Ghouna Jaber (Short Narrative – Qatar, Jordan)
  • Rapture – Dominic Sangma, Mohan Kumar, Jianshang Xu (Feature Narrative – India, China, Switzerland, Netherlands, Qatar)
  • Concrete land – Asmahan Bkerat, Ban Maraqa, Sahar Yousefi (Feature Documentary – Jordan, Qatar, USA)
  • Khmerica – Antoine Guide, Thibaut Amri, Lucas Sénécaut Feature Documentary – France, Cambodia, Qatar)

First Cut Lab

Created in 2015, First Cut Lab is a consultancy programme initiated by Tatino Films that benefits feature films in the editing phase. Ninety films from all over the world have participated in First Cut Lab so far. Workshops are organized in cooperation with film agencies and/or film festivals. The majority of First Cut Lab-supported films are debuts that are regularly awarded in film festivals, most recently the Lion of the Future Award in Venice 2020; the Special Jury Award in Rotterdam 2021; the FIPRESCI Award in Berlinale 2021, etc. First Cut Lab launched First Cut+ in 2020, a programme that consists of advising on the international promotion of a portfolio of 16 feature films per year.