STO­RIES FROM QATAR

Qatar Today - - CULTURE -

Two weeks be­fore Ajyal Film Fes­ti­val, we were in our of­fice,di­vid­ing up be­tween us the var­i­ous screen­ings that had to be cov­ered. Be­ing me­dia part­ners, we wanted to make sure that we cap­tured the best mo­ments, moods and mo­tion pic­tures of the three-day ex­trav­a­ganza. While Speed Sis­ters was al­ready gen­er­at­ing a buzz and the Mid­dle East pre­mier of The Prophet was ob­vi­ously the big Red Car­pet event,I found my­self be­ing drawn to­wards the two ‘Made in Qatar' ses­sions.

Pri­mar­ily it was to watch Qarar. The big­gest oh-my-god mo­ment, of course, was spoilt days be­fore – the CGI of our in­trepid hero hav­ing a smoke as he looks over at the dec­i­mated Doha sky­line be­cause of the on­set of a zom­bie epi­demic. It would have been dou­bly im­pact­ful if this par­tic­u­lar scene had been kept out of the mar­ket­ing cam­paign. Nev­er­the­less, the film ul­ti­mately won an award for “its con­sum­mate tech­ni­cal pro­fi­ciency in cin­e­matog­ra­phy, di­rec­tion, act­ing and spe­cial ef­fects”, which was ac­cepted by direc­tor Ali Al An­sari. You'd think a 15-minute short of the zom­bie apoca­lypse couldn't pos­si­ble throw up any sur­prises but Qarar cer­tainly did. Be­ing a mas­sive fan of the genre, I was hap­pily sur- prised with the crisp lit­tle tale of hor­ror, un­der­lined by in­scrutable hu­man mo­ti­va­tions in the face of death. Re­port­edly the pro­duc­tion com­pany, In­no­va­tion Films, shot a longer zom­bie film. I can't wait to get my hands on it.

An­other per­sonal favourite was Hind’s Dream which re­ceived a spe­cial men­tion for “its artis­tic vi­sion and po­etic screen­writ­ing”. Barely ten min­utes long, the story fol­lows a young Be­douin woman, from an un­spec­i­fied place and time, who re­counts a dream that seems to share with her a se­cret knowl­edge about a forgotten past and a dis­tant fu­ture. Haya Al Ro­maihi's po­etry was com­pelling and even I was read­ing the English sub­ti­tles and rub­bing away the goose­bumps from my arms, I was mourn­ing for what was prob­a­bly get­ting lost in the trans­la­tion. But even more im­pres­sive was the sheer vis­ual beauty of the film that com­pli­mented the nar­ra­tion, clev­erly us­ing ev­ery avail­able land­scape in Qatar – from bar­ren deserts and turquoise wa­ters to tow­er­ing sky­scrapers. At one point, the young woman stum­bles on the Richard Serra in­stal­la­tion in the North. It was one of my favourite mo­ments in the movie – the sur­real tone of the film am­pli­fied thou­sand times over by the mys­tique of the sculp­tures. Direc­tor

The Made in Qatar seg­ment of the re­cently con­cluded Ajyal Youth Film

Fes­ti­val left us pleas­antly sur­prised and want­ing more. Ayswarya Murthy re­views a se­lec­tion of films and even at­tempts to coin a term for the fledg­ling but grow­ing

film in­dus­try in Qatar.

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