The inaugural Ajyal Youth Film Festival, presented by the Doha Film Institute, concluded on the night of Saturday 30 November 2013 with the winners of the Doha Film Experience in-competition segments, chosen by hundreds of young jurors from ages 8 to 21, honoured at a closing ceremony.

The Doha Film Experience winners received development awards of US$15,000 each for the Best Feature Filmmakers in the Hilal and Bader categories, and US$5,000 each for the Best Filmmakers in the Mohaq, Hilal and Bader segments, through the Ajyal Film Fund.

Addressing the audience, Al Khater said:

‘In our first edition, we hope that we have instilled and reinforced the love of cinema in many of you – young and young at heart. We also hope that we have ignited many interesting conversations, exchanges of ideas and point of views – amongst children, teens, and across generations. I congratulate the young jurors for their dedication and enthusiasm over the last five days in watching your films, discussing them and working hard to decide the winners.’

‘Ajyal has addressed a clear need in this part of the world in creating a platform for young audiences to discover new facets of cinema, engage in new types of conversations and expand their imagination. We will continue to build on the bonds that have been formed through the festival and support our youth and talent to pursue their dreams.’

The winners of Ajyal Youth Film Festival are:

Doha Film Experience

  • Mohaq: Best Short Filmmaker – Little Kyota Neon Hood, directed by Satsuki Okawa
  • Hilal: Best Short Filmmaker – The Invention, directed by Giovanni Granada
  • Hilal: Best Feature Filmmaker – Regret, directed by David Schram
  • Bader: Best Short Filmmaker – Men’s barber shop, directed by Meshal Alhulail
  • Bader: Best Feature Filmmaker – The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, directed by George Tillman Jr.

Made in Qatar

  • Made in Qatar Award – My Hero, directed by Nora Al-Subai

In all, the young jurors watched and critiqued 42 films before casting their votes to choose the winners. For the Made in Qatar programme, the jury evaluated eight entries, all by Qatari filmmakers or talent based in the country.

The winners of the Otaku Cosplay competition, a highlight of the anime exhibition at the Ajyal Youth Film Festival, were also honoured. Participants, who dressed up as their favourite anime character from a movie or cartoon, were judged on craftsmanship, originality, choreography.

Over the past five days, the Ajyal Youth Film Festival screened 65 films from 30 nations including Special Screenings of movies from the UK and Brazil. The spectacular world of ‘Anime’ took centre stage with the ‘Otaku Exhibition,’ which featured the works of a number of artists and social clubs.

The inaugural Ajyal Industry Forum, themed ‘Our Children First!,’ discussed aspects ranging from the value of local content to policy making and film marketing, and presented diverse perspectives of filmmakers from around the world. Participants at the panel discussions underlined the need to narrate stories for children from their perspective and to promote localized content.

A highlight of the festival was the ‘Family Weekend’ at The Cultural Village Katara, with several free of charge events including the Ajyal Studio, where audiences could be part of the filmmaking experience; storytelling workshops, and performances from local youth and international talents amongst others.  The ‘Sandbox,’ an interactive space, was also a crowd favourite, and featured interactive 3D installations, educational games, apps, new digital creative tools, and hands-on production activities from Doha and the rest of the world.

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Education Above All Present Documentary Film At Ajyal Youth Film Festival

Education Above All Foundation (EAA), a global initiative of HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, presented French writer and director Pascal Plisson’s documentary film On the Way to School (Sur le chemin de l’école) at the Ajyal Youth Film Festival held by the Doha Film Institute in Qatar on 26 November 2013.

EAA Chief Executive Officer Marcio Barbosa said:

Seeing the struggles that children face to access education shows why we do what we do and what it means to these children. In our hearts and minds the film bridges the gap between our programs and our beneficiaries and aligns with our vision to support access to education for all.’

The documentary tells the story of children, united by the desire to receive an education, striving against extreme challenges to get to their schools in remote locations in India, Kenya, Morocco, and Patagonia, Argentina.

EAA has partnered with the Doha Film Institute to foster community awareness around the issue of the universal right to education and the plight of out of school children. As a sponsoring Friend of the Festival, EAA aims to harness the power of film to raise awareness among young people.

The film features the story of four children living in challenging circumstances, who almost instinctively recognise that their well-being, indeed their survival, depend on knowledge and education. From the dangerous savannahs of Kenya to the winding trails of the Atlas mountains in Morocco, from the suffocating heat of Southern India to the vast plateau of Patagonia, these children are all united by the same quest.

Jackson, Zahira, Samuel and Carlito are the heroes of On the Way to School, a film that interweaves the stories of the four pupils forced to confront and overcome countless, often dangerous obstacles – enormous distances over treacherous territory, snakes, elephants, even bandits – on their journey to the classroom. The young film heroes from Morroco and Kenya attended the first movie screening during the Ajyal festival.