Ten films supported by the Doha Film Institute (DFI) have been selected to screen at the 2021 Venice International Film Festival, from 1 to 11 September.

One of the largest selections of films funded by DFI to be shown at the festival, the diverse line-up includes six exciting works from Arab filmmakers, including the first-ever Yemeni film selected for the official short film competition.

Don’t Get Too Comfortable

Shaima Al Tamimi sets history as the director of the first Yemeni film – Don’t Get Too Comfortable – selected for competition at an international film event.

DFI Chief Executive Officer Fatma Hassan Alremaihi said they are incredibly proud to showcase ten films backed by DFI at the Venice Film Festival this year, underlining their commitment to support emerging Arab talent and filmmakers from across the globe. She said that the selection includes thought-provoking works by new voices in global cinema and established names that offer fresh perspectives that reflect human hopes, aspirations and challenges.

Our funding programmes are dedicated to supporting emerging talent, captivating storytelling and unique narrative styles, and there is no doubt that these films are among the most anticipated projects to emerge this year from the region and beyond.

Their Venice debut will mark the beginning of an exciting journey for all these films, and I congratulate the teams behind them on their inclusion at this prestigious festival.


Competing in the Festival’s Orizzonti segment are three DFI supported films:

White Building
A still from the film, White Building

Atlantide (Italy, France, Qatar) by Italian director Yuri Ancarani, a 2020 Spring Grants recipient. The film follows three young men who find interest in small fast boats. Their characters drive the audience through a summer of dreams and nightmares. Kavich Neang’s debut film and 2020 Spring Grants recipient White Building (Cambodia, France, China, Qatar) explores the life-changing moments of a young man from Phnom Penh, from the demolition of his home to societal pressures. The third film is the 2020 Fall Grant recipient Kiro Russo’s El Gran Movimiento (Bolivia, France, Switzerland, Qatar), which is set in contemporary Bolivia. The film follows Elder and his companions who arrive in La Paz after a seven-day walk and seek to be reinstated at the local mine.

Premiering in the Orizzonti Shorts Film Competition, another 2020 Fall Grant recipient Shaima Al Tamimi’s Don’t Get Too Comfortable (Yemen, UAE, USA, Netherlands, Qatar) contemplates the continuous pattern of movement amongst Yemenis in the diaspora and highlights the collective feeling of statelessness and belonging by migrants through introspective letters written to her grandfather.

The 2021 Venice Film Festival’s new sidebar programme, Orizzonti Extra features two DFI backed projects including the opening film Land of Dreams (USA, Germany, Qatar) by Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari. Co-financed by DFI, the film is a political satire set in the near future where America has closed its borders and become more insular than ever; and the 2018 Fall Grants recipient Mounia Akl’s Costa Brava, Lebanon (Lebanon, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Qatar) that follows the free-spirited Badri family who escaped the toxic pollution of Beirut by seeking refuge in the utopic mountain home they built. However, when the government inaugurates a landfill outside their fence, everything they escaped catches up with them.

Diana El Jeiroudi’s Republic of Silence (Syria, Germany, France, Qatar), a 2016 Fall Grants recipient premieres in the official out of competition segment. The feature documentary presents a first-person account of El Jeiroudi’s journey from Syria to Berlin and explored how cinema saved her life.

Final Cut

Two DFI supported films have also been selected for the Final Cut, a Venice Production Bridge initiative that supports projects from African and Arab countries.

A still from the film, The Mother of All Lies

Under The Fig Trees (Tunisia, Switzerland, Qatar, France) by 2021 Spring Grants 2021 recipient Erige Sehiri, about three female friends on the threshold of an adult life who work in fruit orchards to pay for their studies, prepare for their wedding and help their families; and The Mother of All Lies (Morocco, France, Qatar) by 2019 Spring Grants recipient Asmae El Moudir. This feature documentary follows El Moudir’s personal journey to learn more about her childhood, but it soon unfolds to tell the story of the 1981 bread riots, and how this event reflects Morocco’s society today.

Syrian screenwriter, director and 2019 Spring Grants recipient, Ameer Fakher Eldin, will also compete in Gionarte Degli Autori, an independent sidebar at the festival with The Stranger (Syria, Qatar) that follows Adnan, a young man returning home against the will of his father after unsuccessfully studying medicine in the former Soviet Union.

For more information about the 78th Venice Film Festival, visit labiennale.org.  

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