STORIES FROM QATAR
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.