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Doha TFF: Highlights

Highlights from the 2009 Doha Tribeca Film Festival, including video interviews with Martin Scorsese, Hiam Abbass, and Youssra about the state of Arab film. Also, awards and the arrival of Robert De Niro!

Doha TFF Family Day
Doha TFF Family Day. © 2009 Getty Images, Credit: Andrew H. Walker

The first Doha Tribeca Film Festival has wrapped up four days of films, discussions, celebrations, and more, and by all accounts, Qatar's capital city hosted an event that surpassed all expectations. From the opening night red carpet screenings of Amelia to the all-ages fun of Family Day to the Closing Night awards ceremony, hosted by Tribeca Film Festival founder Robert De Niro, the festival entertained the broad and diverse community of Doha, championed emerging Arabic artists, and celebrated the power of film.

Doha TFF Closing Night Doha TFF The Mummy Afterparty
Doha TFF Closing Night, Afterparty following The Mummy. © 2009 Getty Images, Credit: Andrew H. Walker

And there were celebrities! Director Martin Scorsese, in his first trip to the Middle East, was visible throughout the Festival. He judged the innovative 1-minute film competition, he hosted the World Cinema Foundation's rare screening of the 1969 film by Shadi Abdel Salam, The Mummy (Al-Momia), and he sat down with Doha Tribeca Film Festival Executive Director Amanda Palmer for an exclusive one-on-one interview:

Amanda Palmer interviews Martin Scorsese at Doha TFF
Doha Tribeca Film Festival Executive Director Amanda Palmer interviews Martin Scorsese.

Doha TFF Geoff Gilmore The Mummy  Doha TFF Robert De Niro
(L) Tribeca Enterprises CCO Geoff Gilmore, (R) TFF Founder Robert De Niro. © 2009 Getty Images, Credit: Andrew H. Walker

As we mentioned, De Niro caused a stir around town on Sunday, the final day of the Festival. He participated in a Doha Talks event, and then was the main attraction at the Closing Night Awards Ceremony, where three films were honored in an outdoor ceremony that rivaled the spectacle of opening night.

Doha TFF Audience Award
Director Liz Mermin (2nd from left). © 2009 Getty Images, Credit: Michael Buckner

Liz Mermin's film Team Qatar, which follows the creation of the host country's first debate team, won the audience award for Best Festival Film. Mermin was one of several documentary filmmakers who brought their films to Doha TFF after a successful run at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.

Doha TFF Best Arabic Film
Director Najwa Najjar (2nd from left), Robert De Niro, Hiam Abbass, Yasmine Al Massri. © 2009 Getty Images, Credit: Michael Buckner

Palestinian Najwa Najjar's debut feature film Pomegranates and Myrrh, a love story set around the freedom of dance and the imprisonment of occupation was awarded Best Arab Film. Learn more about Najjar in the blog she wrote for Doha TFF. And watch Amanda Palmer's interview with Najjar.

Doha TFF 1-minute Film Winner & De Niro
Director Sophia Al Maria, Robert De Niro. © 2009 Getty Images, Credit: Michael Buckner

Sophia Al Maria's The Racer, made in Doha TFF's Workshops with Community Outreach Programmer Scandar Copti and judged by Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, won Best 1-Minute Film. You can watch The Racer here. (It's only one minute!)

Doha TFF De Niro & Filmmakers
Robert De Niro with local filmmakers. © 2009 Getty Images, Credit: Michael Buckner

Now that the Festival is over, the goal is to encourage artists from the region to keep making films. To that end, Doha TFF announced year-round initiatives that will foster a burgeoning film presence in Qatar. Educational components include an exchange program between Doha TFF and the original Tribeca Film Festival in New York, and the creation of Doha Tribeca Labs for aspiring screenwriters and directors. More news to come on these exciting developments.

In the meantime, we've assembled some of the conversations from Doha TFF describing the significance of film in the Middle East.

Doha TFF: Al Massri and Abbass
Yasmine Al Massri and Hiam Abbass, courtesy Doha Tribeca Film Festival

Actresses Yasmine Al Massri and Hiam Abbass talked with Doha TFF about the festival, their careers, and what they expect for the future of film in the Arab world. Both Abbass and Al Massri explain why they are so encouraged by the festival and by each other's careers in the context of the challenges facing Arab cinema.

Doha TFF: Youssra
Youssra, courtesy Doha Tribeca Film Festival

And Youssra, the Egyptian actress who is another star of the Middle East, discusses the future of film in the region.

And we will leave you with two insightful blogs posts from Doha TFF, written by friend of Tribeca Jared Cohen about the Festival's significance: Why Doha? and Film as Citizen Politics.

See Doha TFF Day One in Pictures.
See Doha TFF Day Two in Pictures.
See Doha TFF Day Three in Pictures.
See Doha TFF Day Four in Pictures.

Doha TFF even had its own Flash Mob in the City Center!

Doha TFF: Flash Mob

Visit the Doha Tribeca Film Festival website for complete coverage.


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