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Doha Tribeca Fest Takes Shape

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire July 29, 2009 at 2:13AM

Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF) has announced some key members of the team that will head up the inaugural 2009 Festival. Amanda Palmer, head of entertainment for Al Jazeera English, has been named the festival's Executive Director. Palmer will lead the Festival and work with a team from Tribeca that includes Geoffrey Gilmore, Chief Creative Officer of Tribeca Enterprises, to shape the program. Locally the team will include Arab documentary and short films expert Mohamed Maklouf, serving as the festival's Regional Programs Advisor, and Palestinian filmmaker Scandar Copti serving as Community Outreach Programmer.
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Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF) has announced some key members of the team that will head up the inaugural 2009 Festival. Amanda Palmer, head of entertainment for Al Jazeera English, has been named the festival's Executive Director. Palmer will lead the Festival and work with a team from Tribeca that includes Geoffrey Gilmore, Chief Creative Officer of Tribeca Enterprises, to shape the program. Locally the team will include Arab documentary and short films expert Mohamed Maklouf, serving as the festival's Regional Programs Advisor, and Palestinian filmmaker Scandar Copti serving as Community Outreach Programmer.

"We are thrilled to have Amanda on board. Her relationships and her understanding of the region will be an enormous asset," said Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, in a statement. "Together, Amanda and Geoff's experience will help us engage the film world and the Qatari community in an exchange of ideas through the universal language of film."

Doha Tribeca Film Festival will run October 29 to November 1, 2009 and is being produced by Qatar Museums Authority in collaboration with the Tribeca Film Festival. The fest is intended to showcase the "best of the local Qatari community" as well as "the broader Arab culture." It was formed through a cultural partnership by Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and the Tribeca Film Festival Founders, Jane Rosenthal, Craig Hatkoff, and Robert De Niro. The Festival was announced in November of 2008 and the first edition will be hosted at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar.

Amanda Palmer, Doha Tribeca Film Festival's Executive Director

"Our vision is to create a festival that genuinely engages the Qatari people and supports regional filmmakers," said Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums Authority, in a statement. "This team is going to impact the way this region experiences film."

"When Her Excellency and I started talking about this possibility it was always clear that the festival vision was to create an authentic film event that truly serves the community," said Palmer in a statement. "Film is such an amazing equalizer and we felt Tribeca was unique in how it creates an event where filmmakers and film-goers can equally celebrate film."

As part of the collaboration with Tribeca, a team of Qatari nationals traveled to New York to learn how the organization runs an international film festival. Palmer is leading that group in Doha, modeling DTFF programming on the success of Tribeca while also creating an "authentic, locally-driven, Middle Eastern film festival."

"Doha Tribeca Film Festival seeks to initiate a dialogue about the power of film that resonates long after the Festival's conclusion and creates a sustainable foundation for the growth of a film industry in Qatar," said Geoff Gilmore in a statement. "We hope that the Festival will help nurture and support area filmmakers and be an important step toward creating the next generation of filmmakers in Qatar."

Gilmore joined Tribeca Enterprises back in February, after leaving a 19 year position at the Sundance Film Festival. At the time, Gilmore told indieWIRE he was joining the organization to "be involved in setting up a new paradigm, exploring the ways that festivals become platforms for new enterprises."

DTFF will include approximately 30 films, as well as special events. In its four days in Doha, DTFF will center its events around the city's Museum of Islamic Art.