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‘Narco Cultura’ Director Shaul Schwartz Among Doha Film Institute Grants Winners

Variety logo Variety 12/12/2016 Nick Vivarelli
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Brooklyn-based directors Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau’s documentary “Trophy,” an in-depth look at the big-game hunting industry, is among 32 projects selected for the latest round of grants by the Doha Film Institute, which supports emerging international filmmakers though the bulk of their funding goes to Arab projects.

Schwartz, a photographer/filmmaker, is the director of doc “Narco Cultura,” which was released theatrically in the U.S. by Cinedigm after it premiered in 2013 at Sundance. He more recently helmed two-part TV series “A Year in Space” for Time and PBS, nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award this year.

The DFI’s 2016 Fall grants for emerging filmmakers will support an unprecedented 32 films, 15 of them directed by women, coming from 27 countries.

In addition to projects by Qatari directors, the DFI program covers projects in various production stages from Algeria, Argentina, Burkina Faso, Canada, Dominican Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Netherlands, Oman, Palestine, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Syria, Tunisia, the U.A.E., the U.K. and the US.

“While providing a platform for new cinematic voices, we are also looking to build a culture of universal storytelling with films that resonate across all cultures,”  Fatma Al Remaihi, Chief Executive Officer of the DFI, said in a statement.

Feature Narratives to receive the DFI Fall Grants 2016 

  • A Kasha (Sudan, South Africa, Qatar) by Hajooj Kuka, an offbeat Sudanese love story set in a time of civil war
  • Beauty and the Dogs (Tunisia, France, Sweden, Lebanon, Qatar) by Kaouther Ben Hania, about a Tunisian student’s determination to report a personal trauma to the police
  • Cocote (Dominican Republic, Argentina, Germany, Qatar) by Nelson De Los Santos Arias about Alberto, whose family expects him to avenge the death of his father
  • Daoud’s Winter (Iraq, Netherlands, France, Lebanon, Qatar) by Koutaiba Al-Janabi about Daoud who deserts his army base to return the body of his deceased friend to his family
  • iPhone Memory (Qatar) by Mahdi Ali Ali, in which three stories intersect in France – those of a Frenchman who battles cancer; a Romani girl who seeks someone to adopt her little sister and a Syrian immigrant boy trying to survive by acting in films
  • Memory Hotel (Germany, France, Qatar) by Heinrich Sabl, which serves as an emotional journey through European history
  • Multicoloured Bahtan (Egypt, Qatar) by Nermeen Salem in which emotion-less Bahtan meets hyper-active Felfella and together save the world from losing its emotions
  • Musk (UAE, Qatar) by Humaid Alsuwaidi about Ahmed who tries to overcome his inherent cynicism, while stuck between his dying father and brooding son
  • Solo (Tunisia, France, Canada, Qatar) by Mehdi Hmili about Amel, who is released from prison, and seeks her missing son in the lower depths of Tunis
  • Stateless (Morocco, France, Qatar) by Narjiss Nejjar about Henia who will give anything to find her mother, which includes agreeing to marry an old blind man
  • The Maiden’s Pond (Lebanon, Qatar) by Bassem Breche in which two women try to maintain and negotiate their lives with and against each other
  • The Poster (Palestine, France, Germany, Qatar) by Suha Arraf, which is set in a Palestinian village in Israel, where a poster stirs chaos in the village.
  • The Silence of the Wind (Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, France, Qatar) by Alvaro Aponte-Centeno, about Rafito, who cannot mourn his sister’s death because of his continued involvement in human trafficking
  • Volubilis (Morocco, France, Qatar) by Faouzi Bensaïdi, in which a humiliating and violent incident turns the destiny of a couple upside down
  • Wallay! (Burkina Faso, France, Qatar) by Berni Goldblat about Ady, a French-Burkinabe adolescent, who sent by his father to the family village in Burkina Faso
  • Zanka Contact (Morocco, France, Qatar) by Ismaël El Iraki in which the romantic odyssey of a has-been rock star and a singer will turn nocturnal Morocco upside down

Feature Documentary and Experimental projects

  • From a Palm Tree to the Stars (Iraq, France, Germany, Qatar), a feature experimental by Leila Albayaty, in which a French-Iraqi artist tries to find her lost Arabic origins
  • Ouroboros (Palestine, France, Qatar), a feature experimental by Basma Alsharif, death as birth, history as the present and the end as the beginning
  • Al Sahra (Syria, Lebanon, Qatar) by Ghiath Al Haddad and Saeed Al Batal, about two artists who are entwined in the affairs of the people of the besieged city of Gouta
  • House in the Fields (Morocco, Qatar) by Tala Hadid, about two sisters who experience the last seasons of childhood in a village in the High Atlas Mountains
  • Moment of Escape (Algeria, France, Qatar) by Abdallah Badis, a journey sketching real life in Algeria through an encounter between urban youth and people in the countryside
  • My Friend Gadhgadhi (Tunisia, Qatar) by Rafik Omrani, a reflection on terrorism against the backdrop of the director realizing that infamous militant Kamel Gadhgadhi was his close friend at college
  • Ouaga Girls (Burkina Faso, Sweden, Qatar) by Theresa Trarore Dahlberg about a group of young girls from Burkina Faso who study to become car mechanics
  • Plot 35 (France, Qatar) by Eric Caravaca which takes viewers into the heart of a fascinating human quest
  • Republic of Silence (Syria, Germany, France, Qatar) by Diana El Jeiroudi in which the protagonist reclaims the images and sounds of Syrians, scattered around the world
  • Trophy (USA, UK, Qatar) by Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau – an in-depth look at the big-game hunting industry.
  • Clouds (Oman, Qatar) by Muzna Almusafer about a leopard hunter in a traditional village, who goes through a transformation
  • Disruption (Lebanon, Germany, Spain, Qatar) by Feyrouz Serhal, in which the highly anticipated telecast of the World Cup is interrupted by strange audio waves  
  • I Have Been Watching You All Along (Qatar), a short experimental by Rawda Al-Thani about a girl who explores forgotten memories of an abandoned cinema through a trance-like journey into its past
  • Post-production grant for Kashta (Qatar) by A.J. Al Thani, which won the ‘Best Narrative’ at the Made in Qatar Awards at the fourth Ajyal Youth Film Festival, about a father who takes his two sons out to a trip to the desert with unexpected results; the film earlier received a production grant from DFI
  • The Dog’s Children (Saudi Arabia, Qatar) by Layan Abdul Shakoor about an abusive Saudi father who assigns a gruesome task to his little son
  • The Key (Jordan, Germany, Qatar) by Ghassan Jaradat, about a child refugee who is obsessed with collecting keys and finds a hidden door in his father’s key shop


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