Transforming how people look at film, especially in schools, is one of Ajyal Film Festival’s biggest achievements, Doha Film Institute (DFI) CEO and festival director Fatma Hassan Alremaihi has said.
“Now we have parents asking us for their kids to be enrolled even after we closed the registration because they saw the development that Ajyal gave them (children), the change in their character, even in their writing, in their analysis in school,” she told a press briefing yesterday at Katara – the Cultural Village’s Building 18.
“We get feedback directly from schools and companies. Film is not purely entertainment, it is something educational and cultural, and essential in our lives,” Alremaihi observed.
Presented by DFI, the first hybrid edition of the festival showcases a diverse programme of 22 features and 58 shorts, including 31 from the Arab World and 30 by women directors.
The annual event, which concludes today (November 23) has brought together award-winning filmmakers from across the world, and expanded its audience across the region with its online streaming platform.
Alremaihi noted that Ajyal has also become an incubator for arts and culture in Qatar, collaborating with local artists for exhibitions, in addition to supporting aspiring and filmmakers in the country.
“So we started with film, and anime, Geekdom later on, and now it is so established that it can become a standalone event. We started an exhibition a few years ago and now it’s an international standard exhibition,” she stressed. “The artists keep their work, pieces of art, for eight months waiting for Ajyal to happen so they can exhibit with us.”
“We also started with Ajyal Tunes last year and now it has become a new way to understand filmmaking and films,” Alremaihi added.
About the future of Qatar’s filmmaking industry, she expressed confidence that it will continue to grow and become even vibrant, citing the increasing enthusiasm, interest and passion of film enthusiasts.
“I think it will just grow from here, because we built that community which is now so loved and passionate about what they do,” Alremaihi said.
“They have so many stories to tell, and that is why you see filmmakers coming here year after year with different films, and this is great, we need to keep that going and give them all the support they need,” she added.
The DFI CEO cited the success of Ajyal 2020’ first-ever Drive-In Cinema, in partnership with Qatar National Tourism Council, held at Lusail “as part of a multisensory experience for all ages.”
This new feature at Ajyal gathered commuters together at safe social distances in line with government protocols, ensuring the safety of participants and movie-goers.
“I have no idea why we hadn’t done that before, so we’ve learned a lot of things and hopefully after the festival finishes we’ll gather, we’ll start analysing everything that we’ve done,” Alremaihi said, adding that Drive-In Cinema may return in the next edition of Ajyal.