What’s in store at Doha’s Ajyal Youth Film Festival



Now in its second year, the Ajyal Youth Film Festival replaced the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, which ran from 2009 to 2012, when a five-year collaboration with New York’s Tribeca Film Festival came to an end.

Spotlight on youth

The festival is now heavily focused on family-orientated films (Ajyal means generations), with the aim of providing young cinemagoers with the opportunity to learn about other cultures and countries.

Two Sundance hits – Whiplash, about a student drummer (Miles Teller) being taught by a bullying jazz maestro (J K Simmons); and the director Zeresenay Mehari's Oscar contender Difret, an Ethiopian drama about a child kidnapping – have been selected for screening because they feature teenagers grappling with growing up and the demands of the adult world.

Unique to the Middle East

The other main film festivals in the region – in Abu Dhabi and Dubai – aim to show the best movies fitting their selection criteria. This often overlaps and means that some films will show at more than one festival.

Ajyal differs in that it gives priority to films for younger viewers. This focus ensures that there are many Middle East premières and the occasional world premiere to enjoy.

The numbers

Ninety films from 43 countries will be screened, 21 of which are feature films, 10 of them by first or second-time directors. There are also 40 short films.

Theeb (funded by Sanad, the development and post-production fund of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival), which had it's regional premiere in Abu Dhabi, will also be screened. The film won Naji Abu Nowar the Orrizzonti Award for best director at the Venice International Film Festival.

The stars

Special guests attending the festival include the actress Salma Hayek, the directors Roger Allers, Joan Gratz and Mohammed Saeed Harib, who are all behind the animated ensemble feature Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet. Nowar will also be there, as will Amber Fares, the director of the opening-night film Speed Sisters.

The curtain-raiser

Speed Sisters is getting its world premiere at Ajyal. The documentary about the Middle East's first all-woman motor-racing team features five drivers – Marah, Mona, Betty, Noor and Maysoon – who have taken the Palestinian auto-racing world by storm. Fares is a Canadian-born filmmaker with Lebanese roots who lives in Ramallah. She founded SocDoc Studios to produce story-driven films that promote social issues in the Middle East. This is her feature-film debut.

Festival highlights

Fans of Japanese animation won't want to miss The Tale of Princess Kaguya, based on the 10th-century Japanese folktale, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. The film is directed by Isao Takahata, who made Grave of the Fireflies and is a co-founder of the legendary animation house Studio Ghibli.

Documentary lovers should see #chicagoGirl: The Social Network, directed by Joe Piscatella, which is about a young Syrian woman who takes part in the events in Syria from her bedroom in Chicago. Ala'a Basatneh, aka #chicagoGirl, will be at the festival.

The Made in Qatar section is perfect for those on the lookout for new talent. It showcases short films by filmmakers based in Qatar, which this year include a zombie horror (Qarar by Ali Al Ansari); Kings and Queens of Qatar, a documentary about the women's national chess team; and six winners from the Tarsheed Short Filmmaking Competition, which aims to raise awareness about water and electricity conservation.

artslife@thenational.ae

AS IT STANDS IN POOL A

1. Japan - Played 3, Won 3, Points 14

2. Ireland - Played 3, Won 2, Lost 1, Points 11

3. Scotland - Played 2, Won 1, Lost 1, Points 5

Remaining fixtures

Scotland v Russia – Wednesday, 11.15am

Ireland v Samoa – Saturday, 2.45pm

Japan v Scotland – Sunday, 2.45pm

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

The Genius of Their Age

Author: S Frederick Starr
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages: 290
Available: January 24

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

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COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
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UAE Warriors fight card

Main Event : Catchweight 165lb
Martun Mezhulmyan (ARM) v Acoidan Duque (ESP)
Co-Main Event : Bantamweight
Felipe Pereira (BRA) v Azamat Kerefov (RUS)
Middleweight
Mohamad Osseili (LEB) v Amir Fazli (IRN)
Catchweight 161 lb
Zhu Rong (CHI) vs. Felipe Maia (BRA)
Catchweight 176 lb
Handesson Ferreira (BRA) vs. Ion Surdu (MDA)
Catchweight 168 lb
Artur Zaynukov (RUS) v Sargis Vardanyan (ARM)
Featherweight
Ilkhom Nazimov (UZB) v Khazar Rustamov (AZE)
Bantamweight
Jalal Al Daaja (JOR) v Mark Alcoba (PHI)
Lightweight
Jakhongir Jumaev (UZB) v Dylan Salvador (FRA)
Catchweight 143 lb
Hikaru Yoshino (JPN) v Djamal Rustem (TUR)
Featherweight
Javohir Imamov (UZB) v Ulan Tamgabaev (KAZ)
Catchweight 120 lb
Larissa Carvalho (BRA) v Elin Oberg (SWE)
Lightweight
Hussein Salem (IRQ) v Arlan Faurillo (PHI)

Virtuzone GCC Sixes

Date and venue Friday and Saturday, ICC Academy, Dubai Sports City

Time Matches start at 9am

Groups

A Blighty Ducks, Darjeeling Colts, Darjeeling Social, Dubai Wombats; B Darjeeling Veterans, Kuwait Casuals, Loose Cannons, Savannah Lions; Awali Taverners, Darjeeling, Dromedary, Darjeeling Good Eggs

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MANDOOB

Director: Ali Kalthami

Starring: Mohammed Dokhei, Sarah Taibah, Hajar Alshammari

Rating: 4/5

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