Qatar’s Growing Film Industry: Championing Arab Cinema at the 2020 Oscars

Doha Film Institute (DFI) and the Qatar-America Institute (QAI) partnered on an exchange trip to Los Angeles, California to highlight Qatars role in supporting Arab Cinema and MENA region filmmakers during Oscars week. 

Los Angeles, CA – February 16th, 2020:  The Qatar-America Institute (QAI) joined together with program partner, the Doha Film Institute (DFI), for QAI’s Expert Voices exchange trip to Los Angeles during the 2020 Oscars week. Expert Voices Series invites experts from Qatar as a medium for encouraging broader and more diverse conversations and collaborations between experts from Qatar and the US leaders in the fields of culture, sports science, and technology. This month’s Expert Voices delegation to L.A., focusing on film, consisted of DFI’s CEO Fatma Hassan Alremaihi, QAI’s Executive Director, Fatima Al-Dosari, and Abdullah Al-Mosallam, Deputy Director of Ajyal Film Festival and Chief Administrative Officer of DFI. 

The delegation’s objective aimed to highlight Qatar as a force in the film industry via the Doha Film Institute. In addition to showcasing the nation’s role in supporting and championing films, filmmakers and creatives from the region, the Expert Voices delegation solidified existing relationships and fostered new ones in California. The Expert Voices trip to L.A. presented an opportunity for QAI and DFI to act on  their new partnership  and join together in strengthening the voices from the region, through the power of films and storytelling, and by engaging in conversations on the importance of female empowerment and multicultural representation. 

Executive Director of QAI, Fatima Al-Dosari, poses for a photograph with the CEO of Doha Film Institute, Fatma Hassan Alremaihi.

Fatima Al-Dosari, Executive Director of the Qatar America Institute, said, “We are thrilled to have this opportunity to join our partner, the Doha Film Institute, in L.A. to champion the three Qatari-backed films that were recognized at this year’s Oscars: the DFI-granted films The Cave and Brotherhood and the Al-Jazeera Witness supported film St. Louis Superman. 

The delegates met with industry leaders in Los Angeles ahead of attending the 2020 Oscars, where two of DFI’s supported films were  nominatedThe Cave, a Syrian civil war film directed by Feras Fayyad was nominated in the Best Documentary Feature category, while Brotherhood, a Tunisian film by Montreal-based filmmaker Meryam Joobeur, earned a nomination under the Best Live Action Short Films category. 

Fatma Hassan Alremaihi, Chief Executive Officer of the Doha Film Institute, said, “We are very grateful for this opportunity to further strengthen our ties with our peers in America. Our commitment to supporting global storytelling has given volume to important new voices, and we are proud to be associated with a diverse range of films that have won critical acclaim and top honors at the world’s leading film events. Arab cinema is in a good place right now due to the efforts of our emerging filmmakers who continue to bring our stories to the rest of the world, with unique perspectives that promote cross-cultural exchange and encourage dialogue and discourse.” 

The activity-filled week included a meeting at City Hall with City of Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch’s office to discuss Qatar and California’s shared roles in arts, sports, technology, education and entertainment. His Excellency Khalid Al Sada, Consul General of the State of Qatar in Los Angeles, hosted a dinner at his home in honor of the DFI-funded films, joined by the producers behind the Oscar-nominated film Brotherhood and special guest Brigitte Lacombe, an esteemed French photographer. 

 The delegates also enjoyed a private tour of the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, prior to attending The International Feature Films of the 92nd Oscars Reception, spotlighting the nominees for Best International Feature Film. QAI and DFI were also honored to join the exclusive luncheon celebrating the female Oscar nominees hosted by fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. The event toasts women’s empowerment with a special focus on von Furstenberg’s InCharge movement and the Academy’s Women’s Initiative. 

 QAI also partnered with Deborah Sawaf, CEO & Founder of the luxury handbag brand,  Thalé Blanc, to host a High Tea and Talk on multiculturalism and female empowerment in the creative and tech industries, with special guest speakers DFI’s Fatma Hassan Alremaihi and the CEO and Founder of The Female Quotient, Shelley Zalis. The event gathered members of the L.A. community to learn about DFI’s work in supporting MENA region representation in the international film community and the importance of promoting women in the technology and creative fields.