Five films supported by the Doha Film Institute (DFI) have been selected to screen at the Locarno Film Festival starting this week, from 4 until 14 August, in Switzerland.

Recipient of the Qatari Film Fund, the initiative of DFI to promote the country’s film industry and talent, And Then They Burn the Sea, directed by Majid Al Remaihi, also made history as the first Qatar short selected for the festival’s in-competition segment.

DFI Chief Executive Officer Fatma Hassan Alremaihi said that the selection of Al Remaihi’s film in-competition at Locarno marks a milestone in the evolution of the country’s film industry and will hopefully inspire more young talents to pursue cinematic ambitions and make an imprint in the global film community through stories that reflect the nation’s culture and traditions.

It gives me great pride to see filmmakers from across the region emerge as creative leaders of a new wave of filmmaking, who craft compelling stories with global resonance. Their creative prowess and dedication to the arts is indicative of the state of Arab cinema today.

Alremaihi added that over the last ten years, DFI has supported powerful stories and moving storytelling across a broad spectrum of issues and perspectives and has evolved into a key initiative for the next generation of filmmakers from the Arab world.

Our financing initiatives echoes our core mission to amplify important voices of our time and help filmmakers realise their storytelling aspirations, to develop and support world cinema while fostering cultural diversity.

And Then They Burn the Sea

And Then They Burn the Sea is an ode to Al Remaihi’s mother, who suffered from gradual and terminal memory loss over the course of many years. Bringing together poetry, folk history and Al Remaihi’s personal archives, the film explores themes of mourning and loss.

At Locarno, the short film will screen in the Pardi Di Domani category, dedicated to showcasing short and medium-length films from around the world. It has been shortlisted also for the Concorso Internazionale competition.

Developed as part of the Documentary Lab, the film was one of the projects nurtured at Qumra 2021 and is produced under the mentorship of Academy Award-nominated director Rithy Panh.

According to Al Remaihi, he wanted to touch on the common, yet underexplored reality of being a part of a loved one’s struggle with dementia, hoping it will spark a dialogue within the community.

The River (Lebanon, France, Germany, Qatar)

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Co-financed by DFI, Ghassan Salhab’s The River has been shortlisted for the festival’s International Competition and nominated for the prestigious Pardo d’Oro Award. The film shares the story of a couple as they plunge into a journey into the depths of nature, with only a fragile relationship keeping them together.

Whether the Weather is Fine (Philippines, France, Singapore, Germany, Indonesia, Qatar)

Whether the Weather is Fine

Screening in the festival’s Concorso Cineasti Del Presente category, dedicated to emerging directors from all over the world is Whether the Weather is Fine by Carlo Francisco Manatad. Recipient of the 2020 Fall Grants, the film follows Miguel after he wakes up in the chaos of Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013. Rumours of another incoming storm are spreading like wildfire, and Miguel roams the ravaged city with the two women in his life, his mother Norma and his friend Andrea.

The Alleys (Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar)

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Bassel Ghandour’s The Alleys, a Fall Grants 2018 recipient, premieres in the Piazza Grande category. The film is set in a claustrophobic East Amman neighbourhood where life is dictated by gossip and violence. Ali, a hustler who pretends to be a white-collar career man, has a secret relationship with Lana, a young college student. Their romance is kept hidden until one day Lana’s mother, Aseel, receives an extortionist video of the young couple.

Night (Palestine, Jordan, Germany, Qatar)

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The film Night is a Spring Grants 2017 recipient, directed by Ahmad Saleh and will screen in the Concorso Internazionale competition. This animated short film follows a mother who has been awake since the disappearance of her son. Each night, a ‘young girl’ returns the son to his mother only to disappear once daylight begins.

For more information about the 2021 Locarno Film Festival, visit locarnofestival.ch


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