The fifth Ajyal Youth Film Festival, presented by Doha Film Institute (DFI), opened yesterday with the Mena premiere and screening of Nora Twomey’s animated film, The Breadwinner (Canada, Ireland, Luxemboug/2017) at Katara – the Cultural Village.
Executive-produced by celebrity actress Angelina Jolie, the film portrays a tale of female empowerment and imagination in the face of oppression, and a celebration of the culture, history and beauty of Afghanistan.
Prior to the screening, festival director and DFI CEO Fatma al-Remaihi welcomed more than 550 youths from 45 countries at the opening of the Juror’s Hub.
“This fifth edition marks a milestone in our journey in presenting a one-of-kind film event in the region that puts young people at the heart of its story —as we need to address this important constituency, with young people aged 15 to 25 years making up a fifth of the world’s population,” she said in her message. Al-Remaihi added that Ajyal’s jury programme grew from 300 jurors, aged eight to 21 years, in 2013 to more than 550 this year.
The festival, which runs until December 4, features more than 100 films from 42 countries, with themes that explore challenges “brought about by one’s identity, their struggles and relationships and the ever-present tussle between man and nature”, according to the DFI CEO. Dr Bashar Abdulhussain Awadh, TV presenter and son of renowned Kuwaiti actor Abdulhussain Abdulredha who passed away earlier this year, told reporters at the Red Carpet event that the Ajyal 2017 opening ceremony also celebrated the illustrious career of his father with an honorary award. “I am honoured to be here at Ajyal and am very thankful about their gesture for my late father,” said Dr Awadh, who is also a film producer. He represents one of the oldest production houses in the Gulf, which was established in 1971.
He stressed that the inclusion of a special ‘Made in Kuwait’ programme in the festival this year “was a nice gesture, especially that Qatar and Kuwait are related in terms of brotherhood and joint history.”
“We don’t feel that we are away from home. We just feel that we moved from another room in the house,” Dr Awadh added.
Ajyal 2017 shines a spotlight on Kuwaiti cinematic voices with the ‘Made in Kuwait’ programme, which showcases an eclectic and moving selection of short films such as The Best Life by Meqdad al-Kout, Bird Watch-Health by Zahra al-Mahdi and I Wasn’t Cheating by Mousaed Khaled, among others. Notable attendees at the opening of the festival’s Red Carpet event included DFI Board trustees HE Sheikh Thani bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, HE the Minister of Culture and Sports Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali, HE Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed bin Saif al-Thani and Issa bin Mohamed al-Mohannadi. Among the event’s key guests were HE Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kuwari, Adviser at the Emiri Diwan, who was recognised for his contributions and support of arts and culture. Qatar Museums CEO and special adviser to HE the chairperson Mansour Ibrahim al-Mahmoud, Katara general manager Dr Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti, DFI senior officials, diplomats, film producers, artistes, directors and guests were also present.
Other prominent local attendees included Qatari filmmaker Saad Burshaid and artist Fahad al-Kubaisi, as well as Made in Qatar jury members Dana Madouh and Salah al-Mullah.
Ooredoo is official telecom sponsor
Ooredoo announced yesterday that it is the Official Telecommunication Sponsor of the fifth Ajyal Youth Film Festival.
The Ajyal Youth Film Festival is an annual celebration of film, organised by the Doha Film Institute, and this year is being held between November 29-December 4 at Katara Cultural Village.
As Telecommunications Sponsors, this year’s Ajyal Jurors’ Hub will be powered by Ooredoo, and will enable over 500 children aged eight to 21 to act as jurors to critique the latest cinema from around the world. Ooredoo Qatar director of PR and Corporate Communications Manar Khalifa al-Muraikhi said: “The Ajyal Youth Film Festival has played a significant role in driving the creative scene of Qatar through its initiatives that nurture young minds and supports the development of future leaders.
“The festival plays an important role in inspiring the next generation, and is an investment for our future. As the nation’s leading telecom provider, we take pride in supporting events that make a difference to the community, especially in terms of building the skills of our youth and providing them a platform to showcase their creativity.”
This is the latest in a line of community events Ooredoo has supported in 2017, as the company continues to invest in inspiring Qatar’s next-generation of leaders.
* In Walking Out (US/2017), Alex and Andrew J Smith, writer-directors and twins, take an apparently simple story — a chilly reunion between a father and his 14-year-old son — and turn it into a gripping, emotional rollercoaster. The film screens today at 9.30pm.
* Showing at 9.15pm today, Step (US/2016) follows the lives of the formidable Lethal Ladies from the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women as they perfect their footwork for upcoming Step Dance competitions while struggling to get into the universities of their choice. The documentary is directed by Amanda Lipitz.
* A tribute to the humour, resolve and grit with which five chronically-ill French youngsters lead their lives, Anne-Dauphine Julliand’s Everyday Heroes (France/2016) is a privileged, intimate portrayal of their hopes and fears. It screens today at 8.30pm.
* Additional full-length features today include Faruk S?abanovic? and Amela Cuhara’s Birds Like Us (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, UK, US, Qatar/2017) and Theeb (Jordan, UAE, UK, Qatar/2014), as well as Tala Hadid’s Amazigh-language House in the Fields (Morocco, Qatar/2017).
* The Ajyal 2017 Family Weekend opens today from 6pm to 10pm and takes place at the Katara Esplanade, offering activities for children and adults alike.
* Over at Katara buildings 18 and 19, Geekdom, a pop culture feast of comics, competitions, cosplay, movies, TV series and video games and LeBlockade, a multimedia celebration of Qatar’s cultural resilience take place from 10am to 10pm.