The first Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) Film Festival began Thursday (February 23rd) at the Qatar National Theatre in Doha and will continue until February 29th.
Hamad al-Kuwari, Qatar's minister of culture, said during a Tuesday press conference in Doha that festival events include screenings of Gulf documentaries and short feature films. Organisers will offer awards for the best film, best director, best screenplay, best cinematography, best editing and best actor.
The six Gulf States are participating in the festival. Al-Kuwari said each Gulf country is participating with two short feature films and two documentaries.
The festival began with films from Qatar, and the screenings were followed by a seminar with the participating Qatari directors.
The Qatari films include two feature films produced by the Doha Film Institute. The first is "Country of the Pearl", a 10-minute film that tells the story of Saad, an elderly pearl vendor who attempts to improve the troubled relationship between his son and grandson. Mohamed Al-Ibrahim directed the film and wrote the screenplay.
The second film is "Mother of Boys", a 10-minute feature set in the 1970s. The story is about a boy who is possessed since birth by a harmful genie. Wafaa al-Saffar wrote and directed the film.
The documentaries include "Mrs. Wardia", a 17-minute film directed by Shurouq Shaheen and Sarah Rugani that was produced by the University of Qatar. The film addresses the opening of the first church in Qatar, which caused a sensation among the population.
The second documentary is "The Falcon and the Revolution", an eight-minute film that surveys the life of an Egyptian falcon trainer who follows the Egyptian revolution from a distance. Jassim Al-Rumaihi and Ridwan Islam directed the film and it was produced by Northwestern University Qatar.
Al-Rumaihi told Al-Shorfa the film "is an attempt to document the untold moments of the days of the Egyptian revolution".
"The film is a first experience for me, and I think its entry in the festival will be a strong incentive for me to knock on the door of professionalism in the field of production," he said.
Ali al-Sulaiti, a member of the event organising committee, said the festival will honour several stars in the Gulf region, including the late artist Ismail Abdul Rahman Abbasi of Qatar, Massoud Amarallah from the UAE, Abdullah al-Saadawi of Bahrain, Abdullah Muhaisin from Saudi Arabia, Dr. Khaled Zadjali of Oman and Khalid Siddiq of Kuwait.
During a meeting in October, GCC cultural ministers called for hosting the region's first festival to strengthen the film industry in GCC countries and encourage new talent to enter the field. The ministers also sought to honour industry pioneers who have distinguished themselves in Gulf films.
"The festival will host critical seminars after the daily film screenings," al-Sulaiti said. "Several famous artists will make appearances, including Nawaf al-Janahi from the UAE, Hamid Karomi and Fatima Abdul Rahim from Bahrain, Khalid al-Sadiq and Ilham Al-Fadhala from Kuwait, critic Rafiq Ali Ahmad from Lebanon, artist Nour El-Sherif and director Khaled Youssef from Egypt."
The organising committee said a $10,000 award would go for the best feature film, $7,500 for best director, and $5,000 for best actor, best actress, best screenplay, best cinematography and best editing.
The documentary film awards include $5,000 for best film, $5,000 for best director, and $2,500 for best cinematography and best editing.
Culture critic Saeed Abdullah described the festival as "a gateway for artistic talent in the Gulf region".
"The festival is another in a series of festivals that are held in the Arab Gulf region, including Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain," Abdullah told Al-Shorfa. "The advantage of this festival is that it opens the door to local amateur talent, and it seeks to attract individuals with artistic talent who are trying to make it in the world of cinema."