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Arab Filmmakers Receive Vital Funding to Bring Their Stories to the World

May 13, 2011 — Financing

DFI Marks First Year Anniversary With Film Grants for 25 New MENA Projects; Provides Financing Support to Emerging Arab Storytellers Facing Rising Production Costs.

CANNES, May 13th, 2011 – In a time of industry change and rising film productions costs across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) amidst changing political societies, Doha Film Institute (DFI) announced 25 new film grants for projects in various stages of development, and called for more collaborative financial support from the Arab world to support storytellers from the region.

The grants, range across development, production and post-production stages and will provide much needed financial support in the Arab world to bring a variety of stories to life. For the first of two grant submission cycles, DFI has awarded five post-production, 12 production and eight development grants for filmmakers from the MENA region. Importantly, grants have been distributed to reflect the diversity of voices within the region – with recipients hailing from Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco. In line with the Organisation’s commitment to discovering and supporting new voices and perspectives, several of the grants have been allocated to support filmmakers embarking on their first full-length features.

The selected projects are diverse and wide-ranging, and include sports and family themed-films centred on self-realisation and survival, films celebrating freedom of expression in the Middle East, nostalgic tales of love, longing and relationships, and political dramas about the effects of civil war.

DFI Executive Director, Amanda Palmer, explained the reasons behind these latest funding initiatives: “The MENA region has always struggled to get financial support from the Arab world, and this year, we are already hearing that the impact of change has increased productions budgets and made it even more difficult for filmmakers to make their stories, it’s more important than ever that organisations like DFI not only support these filmmakers, but encourage others in the Arab world to support in this time of industry uncertainty and change. DFI’s grants not only support established filmmakers, but in many cases we are providing young emerging talents, who struggle to be heard, the financial backing to enable them to transform their scripts to film.”

H.E. Sheikh Jabor Bin Yousuf Al Thani, Festival Board Member added: “DFI’s film grants are an important next step in establishing Qatar as a global film and cultural hub. A support system of this nature is something that is vital to building a credible and sustainable local and regional film industry. It also sends a message that Qatar is not only supporting the building of its own industry, but also strengthening the regional one. We are proud to be contributing to the development of these creative industries and serve as a stepping stone for regional filmmakers to showcase their creativity to the global community and hope to discover the next gems in world cinema.”

DFI’s film grants will continue to build on the success of its funding and cultural initiatives over the last 12 months. In 2010, the Institute supported six Middle Eastern films including Hawi (Ibrahim El-Batout), A Man of Honour (Jean Claude Codsi), Man Without a Cellphone (Sameh Zoabi), Grandma, a Thousand Times (Mahmoud Kaabour), The Mountain (Ghassam Salhab) and Where Do We Go Now? (Nadine Labaki). In addition, DFI also announced its first international co-production Black Gold, with Quinta Communications – a $55 million Arabian family epic helmed by acclaimed director Jean-Jacques Annaud, and starring Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Tahar Rahim and Mark Strong.

Palmer emphasized DFI’s commitment to supporting MENA filmmakers and establishing their credentials as important storytellers globally by providing grants to at least 25 film and television projects per year. “Now is a truly exciting time to be a young filmmaker in this region,” she said. “We have a film industry that is evolving rapidly at many different levels, at a time where the perspectives of both young and old alike are pivotal to shaping the future, and we remain committed to providing an authentic platform to support and promote Arab voices and storytelling.”

Aside from the 25 grants already identified, DFI will be accepting new Grant applications from June 1 – July 15, 2011. All candidates will be reviewed by the DFI Selection Committee and successful applicants will be announced at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF) in October 2011. For this second submission cycle; DFI is calling out to especially to filmmakers across the North African region to put forward projects for grant assistance. DFI will also concentrate on making equity investments in larger regional and international titles as co-production deals.

Projects eligible for funding include feature films, feature length documentaries, short fiction and documentary films and experimental films, with no restrictions on story genre, length and overall budget. Films are eligible for funding at all stages of production – from development, production, post-production to P&A (Prints & Advertising).

Grant Recipients:

Post Production

El Shooq,
Khaled El-Hagar, Egypt,
Feature Narrative.

Merzak Allouache, Algeria,
Feature Documentary.

Sudan. Land. Music,
Mahmoud Omar, Egypt,
Short Documentary.

February 19,
Tamara Stepanyan, Lebanon,
Short Narrative.

Lina Alabed, Syria,
Feature Documentary.


Beirut Hold’em,
Michel Kammoun, Lebanon,
Feature Narrative.

Challat of Tunis,
Kaouther Ben Hania, Tunisia,
Feature Narrative.

Confession and Struggle,
Eliane Raheb, Lebanon,
Feature Documentary.

Ossama Bawardi, Palestine,
Short Narrative.

Ibn Battuta,
Tariq Teguia, Algeria,
Feature Narrative.

Mohamed Saved from the Waters,
Safaa Fathy, Egypt,
Feature Documentary.

Mosqui Cinema,
Mohamad Malas, Syria,
Feature Narrative.

Notes on a Tunisian Odyssey,
Kays Mejri and Matt Petterson, Tunisia/USA,
Feature Documentary.

Azza El Hassan, Palestine/Jordan,
Short Narrative.

Merva Faddoul, Lebanon,
Short Narrative.

Until Morning,
Hisham Bizri, Lebanon,
Feature Narrative.

When We’re Born,
Tamer Ezzat, Egypt.
Feature Narrative.


Ali Hammoud, Lebanon,
Feature Documentary.

Dona Cesaria,
Dima Al-Joundi, Lebanon,
Feature Documentary.

Hicham Ayouch, Morocco/France,
Feature Narrative.

A Gaza Weekend,
Basil Khalil, Palestine,
Feature Narrative.

Mazen Khaled, Lebanon,
Feature Narrative.

Zaid Abu Hamdan, Jordan,
Feature Narrative.

Shadow of a Man,
Niam Itany, Lebanon,
Feature Narrative.

Upside Down,
Ahmad Ghossein, Lebanon,
Feature Narrative.