Local Students and Alumni Become Leading Voices at DTFF Made in Qatar Series

November 21, 2012 by Northwestern University in Qatar | Category: News |

Film directors Sara Al-Saadi (left) and Maaria Assami (right) with the eponymous subject of “Bader” (center).

Update: Bader has won DTFF’s 2012 Made in Qatar Award. Lyrics Revolt received the jury’s Made in Qatar Special Mention.

Doha, Qatar – 21 November, 2012 – Qatar Foundation’s investment in media education is paying off at this year’s DTFF Made in Qatar series, with three short films that began as student work at NU-Q premiering last night at Katara’s Opera House.

The films were Sarah Al-Derham’s “Ghazil – The Story of Rashed and Jawaher,” a family drama taking place in the Gulf 100 years ago; “Bader,” a documentary about a boy who uses poetry to overcome problems at his local school, by Sara Al-Saadi, Latifa Abdulla Al Darwish and Maaria Assami; and Amna Al-Khalaf’s animation about a woman following her heart, “Brains of Empowerment.”

Al-Khalaf commented that she drew on Qatar’s diversity for inspiration, saying “I try to combine folklore and traditions of different cultures to try and send a meaningful message.”

The showcase of locally produced films boasts a record nineteen films this year, four of which were made by alumni and students of Northwestern University in Qatar’s journalism and communication programs.

(Left to right) The directors of “Lyrics Revolt” — Shannon Farhoud, Rana Khaled, Melanie Fridgant, Ashlene Ramadan. Photo by Getty Images.

In an effort to project Qatar’s growing creative talent onto an ever-bigger stage, Doha Film Institute and Northwestern University in Qatar co-hosted the opening night of the series in style with a red carpet screening and hip-hop concert at Katara’s cornice on Sunday.

The sold-out screening featured the premiere of ‘Lyrics Revolt,’ a feature-length documentary about hip-hop and the Arab Spring. The film was produced by NU-Q alumni Shannon Farhoud, Ashlene Ramadan, Rana Khaled, and Melanie Fridgant, and received cheers from the audience throughout the night.

“It was great to see local filmmaking receive such enthusiastic support from both international visitors and across Qatari society,” said Dean and CEO of NU-Q, Everette E. Dennis. “We believe there is a great thirst for more original content produced in Qatar and the region, and we are encouraged by the growing number of local people telling their own stories.”

Shot in major cities around the Arab world, ‘Lyrics Revolt’ transports viewers across Beirut, Casablanca, Rabat, Cairo and Amman in a journey through poetry, tradition, hip-hop and revolution.

“This documentary took us on a journey of a lifetime,” said Farhoud. “Arab hip-hop is not your typical hip-hop, […] we want people to know more about the artists, their lives and their role in the Arab Spring. Overall, we want the audience to have fun, and be open to something new.”

Hip hop artists Arabian Knightz perform at the opening night of DTFF’s Made in Qatar series. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Doha Film Institute.

In a nod to the film, NU-Q and DFI co-hosted an Arab Hip Hop concert by Cairo trio Arabian Knightz, a group that prides itself on Arab unity. The group displayed a repertoire of popular tracks, combining old Arabic music with contemporary hip-hop at the concert. Other performances included Syrian-American hip-hop artist, educator, designer, poet and peace activist Omar Offendum and English-Arabic Lebanese rap artist Malikah.

NU-Q’s four student and alumni films amount to the most that have been entered in a DTFF, to date, but they are not the first. Last year, NU-Q class of 2012 alumni Jassim al-Rumaihi and Rezwan Islam won the Made in Qatar section with their documentary, ‘A Falcon, A Revolution.’

View the press release in Arabic (Word doc)

View the press release in English (Word doc)

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