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The Doha Tribeca Film Festival 5, November 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.


Doha’s inaugural Tribeca Film Festival seems to have been a success. The venues were all suitably busy and bustling, the chat about the films appropriately complimentary and the whole thing seems to have gone without a hitch. Alas I didn’t have the chance to see that many films, only three.

There was a free screening of ‘Jassim’, a documentary based on one of Qatar’s most celebrated leaders. It was directed by Peter Webber whose impressive CV includes an Oscar nomination for ‘The Girl With a Pearl Earing’. The cinematography was, therefore, beautiful. The story was…erm…certainly one way of looking at the history of Jassim Al Thani. There was spontaneous clapping when Jassim slayed some historical foe (in curiously non-galant circumstances…stabbing him in the back) which was a surprise and a nice reminder of how close Qataris feel to their history, in certain ways.

More interestingly, Webber discussed how he has been hired for what seems to be most of the year to be the literal/artistic director of Qatar’s National Day celebrations this December. He is making a few more short films and documentaries which include one about the screening of Jassim ‘days away from civilization by prop-plane’ in some jungle or other in South America to the tribes people there whom have never seen a desert before and then – if I understood all this correctly – flying some of them to Doha to have a look around. It just goes to those the unfathomable flexibility in the Qatari wallet, especially when it comes to anything to do with their precious history.

The other documentary shown was by a local director concentrating on the history of film and cinema in Qatar. No, before you ask, there wasn’t really one and no, it wasn’t that interesting.

Over at City Center I saw one of the best films that I might ever have seen. The curiously titled No One’s Heard About Persian Cats delved into Tehran’s underground music scene which, I admit, sounds utterly pretentious, niche and oh-so achingly ‘modern’. However, my cynicism was proved to be very misplaced. It was a film essentially about life in Tehran for a few young’uns and their attempts to escape literally and metaphorically the restraints that life in Iran today entails. It was a warm, superbly acted and visually stunning film with a fantastic soundtrack. I can’t recommend it highly enough.


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