Algerian, Lebanese films win in Doha festival

More than 20 films participated in the Arab Film Competition

Image Credit: Supplied
still from The Repentant, winner of Best Narrative at the festival. The film tells the story of a reformed jihadist who retuns home to start anew.
Gulf News

Doha: An Algerian film about a reformed jihadist who returns home in an attempt to start over has won the top prize at the fourth Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF).

Director Merzak Allouache received the $100,000 (Dh367,327) prize money in the Narrative Feature category for his film The Repentant at a glittering awards ceremony on the sixth night of the festival in the Qatari capital on Thursday.

The Lebanese Rocket Society, a film on the country’s first major space endeavour in the 1960s also won the Best Documentary and $100,000 prize money, while Syrian film The Forgotten, about a man who steals across the Israeli border on a one-way trip, won the Best Short with $10,000 prize money.

The festival, co-owned by actor Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Enterprises and the Doha Film Institute, saw more than 20 films participate in the Arab Film Competition in three main categories. The award was set up to promote films and filmmakers in the Mena region and the Arab diaspora.

Other winners include Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch (Best Narrative Filmmaker) for his film God’s Horses inspired by the terrorist attacks in Casablanca in 2003 and Egyptian documentary maker Hanan Abdalla (Best Documentary Filmmaker) whose film, In the Shadow of a Man, looks at the status of women in post-revolution Egypt.

Made in Qatar Award, which celebrates films from the country, also presented a $10,000 grant to Bader a film by students Sara Al Sa’adi, Maaria Assami and Latifa Al Darwish.

The eight-day festival, held at a new venue at the Souq Waqif, was opened last week by Mira Nair’s critically acclaimed film The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which is co-produced by the Doha Film Institute. Nair attended the festival along with Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid, on whose book the film is based. Hollywood legend De Niro, who participated in a segment called ‘In conversation with…’ also introduced his new film, Silver Linings Playbook along with co-star and Bollywood actor Anupam Kher.

Kher and Oscar-nominated Indian director Ashutosh Gowariker also discussed the international viability of Bollywood films at a separate event while Egyptian actors Yousra, Khalid Abol Naga, Nelly Kareem and Tunisian actress Hind Sabry debated about the future of Egyptian cinema after the revolution.

The festival also paid tribute to Algerian cinema with a special selection of movies to mark the 50th year of the country’s independence, and also the late Indian director Yash Chopra who died last month. A total of 87 films were screened at various venues across Doha.

Abdul Aziz Al Khater, the newly-appointed chief executive officer of the Doha Film Institute, said earlier: “DTFF is a globally renowned celebration of cinema that brings together the foremost film professionals from around the world. With the festival, we are underlining our nation’s commitment to strengthen our cultural infrastructure, support talent, promote creativity and promote intercultural dialogue.”