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Tribeca looks to create film hub in Qatar

Doha, August 24, 2009

The Doha Tribeca Film Festival, Qatar's first film event, said on Monday it wants to create a hub for regional filmmakers in the country, through education initiatives and community involvement.

New York's Tribeca Film Festival was founded by actor Robert De Niro after the September 11 attacks and Qatar is the first venue to host the event outside its home country.

The festival, which starts October 29, will host around 30 films, eight to ten of which will be Middle Eastern Arab films, Amanda Palmer, executive director of the festival, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"We want to create a hub where filmmakers can stay," she said, adding: "We are also aware that there's very different gradations of film making abilities at the moment."    

While there is a large pool of local talent in Qatar and the region, who are interested in making films, it needs to be tapped into and educated, said Palmer.

"There are also existing filmmakers so we need to give them a higher level of engagement and education, workshops, scrip-writing developments, producer-investor networking and distribution," she said, adding that emerging, aspiring and established filmmakers need to be equally supported.

The UAE has become a place for budding filmmakers in the region to showcase their creations, with Hollywood, Bollywood and Arab cinema stars arriving at its annual film festivals in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Dubai has also created a freezone for film establishments and production companies to set up office.

Qatar has so far only hosted the Al Jazeera Documentary Film Festival, but the world's largest exporter of LNG aims to mould itself into a cultural capital for the region.

Last year, Qatar opened one of the largest museums of Islamic art in the region, showcasing artworks dating back from the 7th to the 19th centuries. Palmer said Doha's Tribeca festival will be different from its regional counterparts.

"We didn't want to be another competition film festival. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are based on the model of an international film festival like Cannes and Venice and Berlin," she said.

The festival will see greater engagement from the local population as it aimed to be "community-minded", Palmer added.

The New York festival was created as a way to rejuvenate lower Manhattan after the 2001 Al Qaeda attacks and has become a showcase for international films.

Qatar, which borders Saudi Arabia, is an ally of the United States that hosts the US Central Command at a huge military base on the outskirts of Doha. In the media world, it is best known as the home of the Al Jazeera Network, arguably the dominant news service for the Arabic-speaking world. - Reuters




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