The Board of Doha Film Institute (DFI) has appointed Fatma Al-Remaihi as its new chief executive, as the organization hopes to enter a new phase following a turbulent year.
Al-Remaihi had been serving as acting CEO since August this year, following the resignation of Abdulaziz Al-Khater less than two years into the role.
The new leader has been tasked with promoting a strong film culture in Qatar through film appreciation, education and financing initiatives. She will also remain Director of the Ajyal Youth Film Festival and the upcoming Qumra event for aspiring young filmmakers from Qatar and the wider region.
In a statement, Al-Remaihi said:
“I am honored to be appointed as the CEO of the Doha Film Institute. It is a privilege to work with the filmmakers in our local and regional community and I look forward to continuing to support them in telling their stories, and to expand further our objective to build a vibrant and sustainable culture of film appreciation in Qatar.”
Film fund ended
The CEO announcement comes shortly after DFI and an American media group announced the dissolution of their partnership after less than a year.
In February, DFI teamed up with US-based Participant Media to launch a $100 million film fund, with ambitious plans to finance more than a dozen feature films.
The projects under discussion at the time the partnership was announced during the Berlin Film Festival 2013 included:
- Establishing a distribution channel for DFI’s projects, particularly in the US;
- Collaborating on programming for Participant’s new TV channel, which launches in August;
- Creating an Arabic-language version of Participant’s online division; and
- Forming a Middle East branch of Participant set at DFI’s headquarters in Katara.
The plan was that recipients of the five-year revolving fund would also receive production help and assistance with worldwide distribution.
However, reactions to the tie-up were mixed, and several Qataris and expats took the partnership as an insult, saying the institute should do more to support homegrown talent.
The fund has been ended without a single film being made, due to changing priorities on both sides, according to US industry website Variety.
Separate to the fund, the two organizations had collaborated on the highly-successful animation film Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, which had its regional premier at the Ajyal Film Festival in Doha earlier this month.
And Al-Remaihi told Variety that she would consider working Participant again, project-by-project.
“They are a great company that has great vision, but I think we’ve decided together that we’re in a time and place that for us we’ve been focusing on regional filmmakers and regional projects, so together we’ve decided to dissolve the partnership,” she said.
The end of the deal, which had been signed under Al-Khater’s tenure, could herald a new direction for the institute as it concentrates on supporting and developing local and regional talent.
Also recently, a new date for Qumra has been announced, from March 6 to 11, 2015 – a year after it was postponed due to DFI “realigning objectives.” At the time, some said the decision may partly have been due to budgetary issues with running the event alongside the well-received Ajyal Youth Film Festival.
At the time the postponement was announced, in January this year, DFI had just laid off around 40 staff, with one former staffer saying that entire departments had gone and others were significantly streamlined.