Young Qatari directors participating in Qumra 2018, the industry event hosted by the Doha Film Institute (DFI), were all praise for the gathering, endorsing the event as an opportunity for new learnings and networking.

This year, 34 Qumra projects will be nurtured by Qumra Masters to hone the skills of first- and second-time filmmakers from Qatar.

Qatari filmmaker and first time Qumra participant Khalifa Al-Thani, said Qumra pushes them to make films happen. The script-to-screen support they were provided is invaluable in overcoming the challenges faced by first time filmmakers like him.

Nouf Al Sulaiti, who turns director with Gubgub, a short film about an adventurous young girl who goes crab-hunting with her father, said directing was something she wanted to try. Nouf is a film student at Northwestern University in Qatar.

Qumra brings great exposure – to me personally – and about the industry. I had one-on-ones with the Masters and it is great to know how to take my film to the next level. As a Qatari filmmaker, Qumra is important as it helps the world understand that there is actually work here (in Qatar), and that films were being produced.

Often, many people do not take us seriously but Qumra helps us develop our work to the next stage, and help us expand outside the region. It is a good platform to understand that we are capable of making films that are as good as those made in the West.’

AJ Al Thani, whose earlier film Kashta received acclaim, is nurturing her first feature film project, Khuzama – about a Bedouin girl who dreams of exploring the desert – at Qumra 2018. She said she is both anxious and excited.

Your first feature film is like your calling card and I want to prepare as much as possible now so that when I shoot I am in the right place. As a filmmaker you expect to hear that your project is amazing and then you get a shock when your mentors remind you of how much work you still need to do. I am happy to hear that now than later.’

Majid Al Remaihi, who is also participating in Qumra for the first time, is developing a short documentary – Pasttimes – an essay that explores ancestry and grandfathers having symbolic resonance with history, written in Qatar and the Arabian Gulf. His first short film, Domestic Acoustics, was completed through the DFI Documentary Lab. Majid is a sociology student.

Sociology gave me awareness of the structure but film lends me the vision. Film has the artistic capacity to encapsulate so many ideas and today, we need as much of that – alternative ways of telling stories and recording it.’

Majid said Qumra helps get the young filmmakers into the middle of the industry, to be with people who represent their own institutions and films. The masterclasses, through the anecdotes, help get things done. Qumra has made him more enthusiastic about pursuing a career in film with more confidence.

For updates and more information about Qumra 2018, visit the DFI website