There has been a certain je ne sais quoi in the air here in Cannes, and I wasn’t able to quite put my finger on it. It bothered me, someone always good at defining a moment, person or place, that I couldn’t put that feeling into words. Then I attended the press conference for Luca Guadagnino’s ‘The Staggering Girl’ and I had a ‘EUREKA!” moment. So bear with me for a moment while I get to that…Read More
When I look at the title of this piece, I feel overwhelmed myself. I mean, it would be pretty wonderful to just hear one of the these two men who are such Maestros in each of their professions give a Masterclass. But when you get them both, within 24 hours of each other, on a stage, talking to the equally wondrous Richard Peña, well, you have cinematic magic.
Or more precisely, what you have is the Doha Film Institute’s annual Qumra event.Read More
Ever since its creation in 2010 on the peninsular country of Qatar, the Doha Film Institute has been revolutionizing cinema in the Region. The word “revolution” is never a sign of good things in the Arab world and yet at DFI, they should welcome the term when it comes to describing the work they’ve been doing almost singlehandedly to create and foster a healthy cinema culture in the Arab world. And beyond.Read More
When Oscar-nominated American filmmaker Bennett Miller sat down to give his masterclass during this year's Qumra in Doha, he immediately apologized for his voice. "It doesn't hurt, it just sounds bad," he admitted, about the husky sound that appeared to be a really bad case of laryngitis. Maybe they could stop a bit early, said his moderator, who instead then actually proceeded to go overtime with the talk.
Living on the edge, this idea that the masterclass could be cut short by Miller's loss of voice altogether actually added an extra layer of urgency to everything that the talented, kind, thoughtful and wonderfully candid filmmaker had to say.Read More
The greatness of Qumra, the annual industry event held by the Doha Film Institute to help connect, inspire and encourage filmmakers, lies in its diversity of activities. From the daily working breakfasts with some of the most well-respected festival directors and programmers, sales agents and producers to the Masterclasses with cinema greats, from its Qumra Talks to the networking sessions held each afternoon just around the corner from my hotel, there is a buzz of activity at any given moment and even a non-filmmaker like me can feel the excitement of great cinema in the making.Read More
Qatar is the couture state of the Arab world. They watched and learned from the mistakes of all the other Gulf countries that were declared as states before them, and then Qatar set about to reinvent how we view culture, fashion, art and film. You can't watch an award ceremony these days without the presence for the Doha Film Institute in the credits of at least one of the films nominated, the Museum Authority of the peninsular state has assembled and created, and is set to unveil more beauty than my eyes can hold -- just a visit to the Islamic Art Museum will confirm my words -- and of course, the Emir's family owns some of the fashion world's most beloved brands.Read More
“Are you ready for us to make history again?!”
As I stepped into one of the magnificent Majlis — literally translating as a “place of sitting” from the Arabic — a meeting room inside the Madinat Jumeirah complex to catch up with the Chairman of the Dubai International Film Festival, Abdulhamid Juma uttered those words. I was taken aback for a moment and then I remembered that throughout the six years I’ve attended DIFF, I’ve sat down with him and together, we’ve come up with some of best questions about Arab cinema, its place in the world and its importance in dispelling stereotypes and breaking down walls.
This year, I came to DIFF with a heavy heart and I leave it still wondering if all the efforts — personal and collective have been worth it. We’ve witnessed how easily the mighty of the film stratosphere can be taken down in Hollywood when no longer of use to their business partners, destroying careers that should be looked at with respect, regardless of these men’s questionable behavior. We seem to have forgotten that “the casting couch” is a term as old as the movies themselves. Now we just “throw out the baby with the bathwater” as the old saying goes...Read More