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Doha, Qatar; September 2, 2014: Six films made with support from the Doha Film Institute will screen at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, which commences on Thursday, September 4. Three of the films make their world premiere during the highly anticipated annual event.
The films include Naji Abu Nowar’s ‘Theeb’ and Ghassan Salhab’s ‘The Valley’, both recipients of funding from the Institute’s Grants Programme; grant recipient ‘Timbuktu’ by Abderrahmane Sissako and co-financed project ‘The Narrow Frame of Midnight’ by Tala Hadid. ‘Eye & Mermaid’, a short film directed by Shahad Ameen, was made through the Institute’s Hazawi Short Film Production Fund.
‘Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet’ (Canada/France/Lebanon/Qatar/USA), also co-financed by the Institute, will have its world premiere as a TIFF Special Presentation following its work-in-progress preview screening at the Cannes Film Festival. The innovative adaptation of the beloved classic features the work of eight renowned animators, among them Gulf talent Mohammed Saeed Harib (creator of the acclaimed animated series ‘Freej’), who directs the chapter ‘On Good and Evil’.
Fatma Al-Remaihi, Acting CEO of Doha Film Institute, said: “I congratulate all the filmmakers supported by the Doha Film Institute whose works have been selected to screen at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival. We are honoured to have played a part in bringing these wonderful projects to life and wish the filmmakers all the best on their festival journeys. TIFF has a notable history of excellent programming of films from the Arab world and this year’s selection is no exception. I am delighted to see these projects among the strong representation of voices from our region.”
Making its world premiere in TIFF’s Discovery section is ‘The Narrow Frame of Midnight’ (Morocco/Qatar/France/UK), the debut feature-length fiction film by acclaimed Moroccan-Iraqi filmmaker and visual artist Hadid. Against the backdrop of the Atlas Mountains, in a country torn apart by injustice, the film paints a story of interconnected destiny, redemption and hope as three people struggle to define their futures in a cruel and uncertain world.
Abu Nowar’s ‘Theeb’ (Jordan/Qatar/UAE/UK) also screens in the Discovery section after its world premiere in the Orizzonti Competition at the Venice Film Festival. Based in the Arabian Peninsula in 1916, ‘Theeb’ blends coming-of-age drama with frontier Western, telling the story of a boy’s perilous desert adventures when his nomadic tribe is confronted with the modern world in a forgotten corner of the crumbling Ottoman Empire.
‘The Valley’ (Lebanon/France/Germany/Qatar), which makes its world premiere in the Contemporary World Cinema selection, is the fifth feature film by Lebanese director Salhab, whose highly acclaimed previous film ‘The Mountain’ screened at TIFF in 2011. A sense of impending catastrophe pervades ‘The Valley’ after a car crashes in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley and the driver, stricken with amnesia, meets a group of people on the road and is taken to their farm – perhaps never to leave again.
Sissako’s ‘Timbuktu’ (France/Mauritania/Mali) screens in the Masters section, marking its North American premiere after it garnered widespread critical acclaim at its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Set in the aftermath of the jihadist takeover of northern Mali, the exceedingly skilful auteur’s film is a poetic excoriation of the horrors of war that lays bare the blindly destructive force of extremism.
The newly minted Short Cuts International programme includes ‘Eye & Mermaid’ (Qatar), by Saudi director Shahad Ameen. The film was made in Qatar through the Institute’s Hazawi Short Film Production Fund, an educational initiative that supports emerging filmmakers in the Gulf region. The haunting, brutally metaphorical tale of a young girl’s discovery of the dreadful secret behind the beautiful black pearls her father harvests shows that the lovely things in life sometimes come at a hefty price.
The 39th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival opens on Thursday, September 4.
Eye and Mermaid plays as part of Short Cuts International Programme 3
7 September, 7:00 PM, Scotiabank
13 September, 11:45 AM, Scotiabank
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet
6 September, 3:00 PM, Ryerson Theatre
8 September, 1:15 PM, Scotiabank (Press and Industry Only)
10 September, 11:45 AM, Scotiabank (Press and Industry Only)
10 September, 2:15 PM, Scotiabank
12 September, 4:30 PM, Winter Garden Theatre
The Narrow Frame of Midnight
5 September, 6:30 PM Scotiabank (Press and Industry Only)
5 September, 9:30 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox
6 September, 2:45 PM Art Gallery of Ontario
10 September, 5:45 PM Scotiabank (Press and Industry Only)
14 September, 8:00 PM, Scotiabank
5 September, 11:00 AM, Scotiabank (Press and Industry Only)
8 September, 7:15 PM, Scotiabank
10 September, 4:15 PM, Scotiabank (Press and Industry Only)
10 September, 4:30 PM, Scotiabank
12 September, 2:00 PM, Scotiabank (Press and Industry Only)
13 September, 10:00 AM, Scotiabank
4 September, 2:30 PM, Scotiabank (Press and Industry Only)
9 September, 6:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
12 September, 2:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
4 September, 5:00 PM, Scotiabank
5 September, 7:45 PM, Scotiabank (Press and Industry Only)
6 September, 11:30 AM, Art Gallery of Ontario
9 September, 11:00 AM, Scotiabank (Press and Industry Only)
14 September, 2:45 PM, Scotiabank