The 9th edition of the Ajyal Film Festival is finally ready to kick off with exciting in-person activities and film screenings.
A line-up of 54 short films from aspiring and accomplished casts will be screened in the ninth edition of the Ajyal Film Festival, presented by the Doha Film Institute (DFI).
The weeklong 2021 film festival is scheduled to kick-off between 7-13 November with a “diverse mix of virtual and in-person events including film screenings, interactive discussions, multi-media art exhibit, Qatar’s largest pop-culture event Geekdom, and a drive-in cinema as part of a multi-sensory experience for all ages,” DFI said.
The much-awaited event will also feature award-winning films and physical activities, in a much-awaited shift from last year’s hybrid format.
Building on the continued success of the festival and its public programme, Ajyal’s strong reputation for curating award-winning international films is reflected in this year’s line-up, which includes 22 incredible films by Arab filmmakers and 32 films by women directors, demonstrating how female talent are increasingly telling stories through cinema with conviction and creativity.
The diversity of the selection highlights the creative work of talented filmmakers, who continued to pursue their passion despite the challenges of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the 52 exciting short films will be screened in eight themed programmes: Made in Qatar, Made in USA, A World of Colour, Under the Trees, The Journey Within, Changing Times, Uncertain Futures I, and Uncertain Futures II, Ajyal said.
“This year, we have a very rich showcase of short films, including films Made in Qatar and from around the world. We are incredibly impressed by the creativity that shines through in each of the short films – the narratives the filmmakers have chosen, the craft they bring to their work and the techniques they use,” said Fatma Hassan Alremaihi, festival director and chief executive officer, DFI.
Film enthusiasts can watch a selection of the very best in contemporary American short form as part of The Made in USA programme, which includes The Chicken by Neo Sora, Moving by Adinah Dancyger, and Lonely Blue Night by Johnson Cheng.
The programme will premiere on November 11 at 9.30 pm at Katara Opera House, Building 16.
Meanwhile, premiering on November 12 at 7 pm is The Journey Within programme, which includes films such as Umbrellas by José Prats and Álvaro Robles, A Lens Under Water (Qatar/2021) by Fatma Zahra Abderrahim, and Louis’ Shoes by Théo Jamin, Kayu Leung, Marion Philippe and Jean Géraud Blanc.
Coming next is Changing Times shorts, which includes DFI-supported films.
Olayan by Khalifa al-Marri, Don’t Get Too Comfortable by Shaima al-Tamimi, and Night by Ahmad Saleh and Silence by Brwa Vahabpour will premiere as part of the programme on November 13 at 2 pm at VOX Cinemas, Doha Festival City.
The same day will also feature the premiere of Uncertain Futures I, II and III at VOX Cinemas.
The seven-day calendar of film screenings and community-oriented events under the theme ‘Press Play!’ aims to celebrate the spirit of togetherness and the resilience of the nation in addressing the pandemic.
The theme of this year is “Press Play”, which means “move forward out of pause mode”.
This reflects the two-year period in which the global health crisis forced global lockdowns and halted almost all events and in-person interactions in fear of the overspreading virus.
“As one of the first film festivals in the world to adapt to a hybrid format last year, Ajyal demonstrated that we have the can-do spirit – and this year, as the world slowly starts to re-open- we continue to represent the innovation and forward-thinking of Qatar’s leadership,” she added.
The Made in Qatar selection includes A Lens Under Water; Don’t Get Too Comfortable; Olayan, And Then They Burn the Sea, When Beirut was Beirut, Border, Fever Dream, Kan Fe Nas, Remnants and Virtual Voice.
“Continuing the tradition of one of the most unique cinema presentations, Ajyal Film Festival will present the trans-adapted screening of Oualid Mouaness’ DFI-supported film 1982, to mark the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
“The programme highlights the power of film as a tool for inclusion that transcends physical limitations.”
Guidelines and Covid restrictions
Although in-person activities are on the cards this year, Covid-related guidelines will be set in coordination with Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and the Crisis Committee to ensure the delivery of a safe experience.
The event will include virtual and safe in-person elements, although DFI stressed measures and guidelines are subject to change before and during the festival in line with public announcements.
Further details regarding permitted capacity and social distancing will be announced later, Al-Musallam said in a statement.