Spec­tac­u­lar fes­ti­val

Films, fun and a bois­ter­ous fam­ily day marked last month’s sec­ond Doha Tribeca Film Fes­ti­val.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - T MOVIES -

JUST like its inaugural edi­tion, the re­cently-ended sec­ond Doha Tribeca Film Fes­ti­val (DTFF) in the Qatari cap­i­tal show­cased big-bud­get Hollywood films along­side more mod­est in­ter­na­tional art-house fare.

A to­tal of 51 films were pre­sented. One of the last few films to be screened at the five-day fes­ti­val was Robert Ro­driguez’s Ma­chete, star­ring Danny Trejo, Michelle Ro­driguez, Jes­sica Alba and Robert De Niro.

Prior to the screen­ing, two of the film’s pro­duc­ers ad­dressed the crowd. They said they were proud to par­tic­i­pate at the fes­ti­val, and that Ma­chete has nu­dity and some pro­fan­i­ties in it. Jok­ingly, one of them said – with the help of a trans­la­tor, of course – that hope­fully they don’t end up in jail as the film is shown un­cen­sored. Their con­cern was not un­founded as this was the land where kiss­ing scenes on TV are re­placed with scenic shots.

Now, this huge lee­way on cen­sor­ship proved just how se­ri­ous the Qatari govern­ment was about the film fes­ti­val, which might be in its in­fancy but had made quite an im­pres­sion at home and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

From Oct 26 to 30, this city by the Per­sian Gulf cel­e­brated all things con­cern­ing film. The minute one en­tered the home of the fes­ti­val – a newly built cul­tural vil­lage called Katara – they were greeted with a seem­ingly never-end­ing line of gi­ant por­traits of all the tal­ent par­tic­i­pat­ing in the fes­ti­val, as cap­tured by French pho­tog­ra­pher Brigitte Lacombe.

The brand new venue, which was con­structed within a mere six months, was quite an awe­some place to walk through. It has ran­domly lo­cated build­ings, ap­par­ently styled like the tra­di­tional Qatari al­ley, built on dry land lead­ing to the east­ern coast of Doha.

The self-suf­fi­cient vil­lage also has an open-air the­atre, where the open­ing and clos­ing films for the fes­ti­val were screened.

Amidst the whis­per­ing of the ocean on the right and a half-moon ris­ing above the sea, the steel struc­ture that framed the screen loomed large.

De­spite the hot weather, the ab­sorb­ing sto­ries in Al­ge­rian film Out­side The Law and Justin Chad­wick’s The First Grader both held the au­di­ence’s at­ten­tion.

At the cen­tre of the vil­lage is a 5,000-seat coli­seum-shaped am­phithe­atre cov­ered with mar­ble.

The red car­pet – which hap­pened on all five nights and at­tracted Hollywood stars like Salma Hayek, De Niro and Kevin Spacey, and in­ter­na­tional names like Alexan­der Sid­dig, Freida Pinto and Mal­lika Sher­awat – led up to a grand movie the­atre.

Most im­por­tantly, Katara also houses the Doha Film In­sti­tute (DFI), the force be­hind the film fes­ti­val, that aims at de­vel­op­ing pro­fes­sional tal­ent and a film in­dus­try in Doha.

DTFF is a part­ner­ship be­tween Tribeca En­ter­prises, founded by Jane Rosen­thal, De Niro and Craig Hatkoff, which has been stag­ing the cel­e­brated Tribeca Film Fes­ti­val in New York for the past eight years.

Its in­tent here is not dis­sim­i­lar to its own, which is to “bring peo­ple from all walks of life, cul­tures and back­grounds to­gether through the uni­ver­sal lan­guage of film”.

It hopes, with the long-term busi­ness part­ner­ship with Doha, to have

a “cross-cul­tural col­lab­o­ra­tion”.

Egyp­tian-Amer­i­can co­me­dian/di­rec­tor Ahmed Ahmed com­mented: “Tribeca Film Fes­ti­val was cre­ated af­ter 9/11. It’s pro­found that they’ve ex­tended this olive branch back to the Arab com­mu­nity with this col­lab­o­ra­tion in Doha.

“Some 300 Tribeca peo­ple have trans­planted them­selves to make this work. It’s so cool. At the open­ing night gala, I thought I was at the Os­cars. I was touched. I thought, ‘Wow, this is cool, and the rest of the world has to know about this.’”

Any­one who at­tended the event would think that the whole world did ar­rive in Doha. Be­sides the gor­geous celebri­ties, the fes­ti­val had 200 DFI staff mem­bers and 850 vol­un­teers from all over the world be­sides the many film en­thu­si­asts.

One such fan was Ti­lana, a dancer/ac­tress from South Africa who as­pires to be­come a scriptwriter. She spent her days at­tend­ing the in­dus­trial talks and catch­ing some of the movies.

The fes­ti­val also brought to­gether stu­dents, from as young as nine to 16, to par­tic­i­pate in some of the events, in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tional tours of Doha, and a Fam­ily Day on the fourth day of the fes­ti­val.

The Katara Vil­lage was truly abuzz dur­ing the Fam­ily Day. Street per­form­ers, Cirque du Soleil mem­bers, Maori dancers and tabla play­ers min­gled with the crowd.

A vol­un­teer from Italy com­mented: “Fam­ily Day was a great suc­cess. You could see chil­dren ar­riv­ing from noon with their par­ents, and not much later as we an­tic­i­pated. I was amazed to see this uni­cy­clist high up in the air jug­gling bot­tles of fire.”

The CEO of Tribeca En­ter­prises, Ge­of­frey Gilmore, told Gulf Times, the lo­cal English daily, that the fes­ti­val had ex­ceeded his ex­pec­ta­tions. – By Mumtaj Begum

Spe­cial draw: Huge por­traits of the tal­ent, like Robert De Niro, par­tic­i­pat­ing in

the sec­ond Doha Tribeca Film Fes­ti­val line the road lead­ing up

to the Katara Vil­lage.

One of the breath­tak­ing at­trac­tions at the fam­ily day.

A uni­cy­clist tow­er­ing over ev­ery­body else at the Fam­ily Day. (Pic left) The 2010 Doha Tribeca Film Fes­ti­val of­fers great fun for both adults and chil­dren.

Star power: Salma Hayek at­tend­ing the Open­ing Night Gala of the 2010 Doha Tribeca Film Fes­ti­val.

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