The second edition of Qumra, March 4 – 9, the industry development event organized by the Doha Film Institute to nurture emerging voices in cinema with a
focus on first and second-time filmmakers, will include as Masters, James Schamus and Joshua Oppenheimer along with Naomi Kawase, Aleksandr Sokurov and
Nuri Bilge Ceylan participating in a series of master classes and one-on-one sessions
with selected Qumra filmmakers and their projects along with screenings and Q&A sessions for Doha audiences throughout the week.
Held at the incredibly beautiful Museum of Islamic Art, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei, and
a cultural partner of the Doha Film Institute, Qumra supports the development of emerging filmmakers from Qatar, the Arab region and around the world. DFI
has arranged a “rainbow of colors in a bouquet of participants and masters”. Elia Suleiman, Artistic Advisor for the Doha Film Institute says, “each master
is very different and the event looks like an edition of poetry.”
Due to unforeseen circumstances, previously announced Qumra Master Lucrecia Martel is no longer able to participate this year.
Directors and producers attached to up to thirty three projects in development or post-production are invited to participate in Qumra, named from the
Arabic term ‘qumra’ popularly said to be the origin of the word ‘camera’ and used by the scientist, astronomer and mathematician Alhazen (Ibn al-Haytham,
965-c.1040 CE), whose work in optics laid out the principles of the camera obscura.
Qumra includes a number of emerging filmmakers from Qatar, as well as recipients of funding from the Institute’s Grants Program. The robust program
features industry meetings designed to assist with propelling projects to their next stages of development, master classes, work-in-progress screenings,
matchmaking sessions and tailored workshops with industry experts. This creative exchange takes place alongside a program of public screenings curated with
input from the Qumra Masters.
Especially appealing about this event, seen in light of mega-events as Berlin, Cannes, TIFF and Sundance is the intimacy of everyone sharing meals,
attending the same party, staying at the same hotel within the famed souk and in walking distance to the museum. Only 150 people, all working hard and all
meeting every day as they work with 23 features, 11 of which are in development and 12 in post whose program has been guided by Elia Suleiman and Qumra
Deputy Director Hanaa Issa. The Qumra team will also
help us navigate the souk to find the best bargains in spices like saffron and sumac and tumeric, textiles and other middle eastern treasures from the silk
Qumra has come a long way in one year; where last year there was only one documentary, this year there are eight documentary features – four in development
and four works-in-progress – and four short documentaries in development. Five of them are Qatari, five are from the MENA region and two international.
There are 23 features of which five are from Qatar and 10 shorts, all from Qatar. Each Master will meet with four to five filmmakers formally but the
collaboration among mentors and emerging filmmakers will extend far beyond such formal meetings.
There are also three great moderators of panels: Richard Pena, the longtime chief for the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York, Jean Michel Poignet
and Paolo Bertolini of the Venice Film Festival.
Also included is a highly engaging selection of movies by the five Qumra Masters and from a selection of emerging talent during daily screenings and
Q&A sessions. The selection includes Academy Award, Cannes Film Festival and Ajyal Youth Film Festival award winners.
Doha Film Institute CEO Fatma Al Remaihi said: “This year, the Qumra Screenings will showcase the work of five esteemed masters of cinema alongside some
tremendously talented emerging filmmakers. By presenting these two spectrums of cinematic works, Qumra will offer audiences highly engaging film
experiences that will present new insights into the language of cinema and the process behind the creation of compelling films. They will also be
educational and inspirational, underlining our commitment to strengthening film culture in Qatar by promoting access to and appreciation of world cinema.”
The Masters screenings, accompanied by Q&A sessions with the visiting Qumra Masters linked to each film are “The Look of Silence” (Denmark, Indonesia,
Finland, Norway, UK / Indonesian, Javanese /2014) by Qumra Master Joshua Oppenheimer, “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” (Turkey, Bosnia and
Herzegovina / Turkish / 2011) by Qumra Master Nuri Bilge Ceylan; “The Russian Ark” (Russian Federation, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan / Russian /
2002) by Qumra Master Aleksandr Sokurov; “The Mourning Forest” (Japan, France / Japanese / 2007) by Qumra Master Naomi Kawase; and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden
Dragon” (Taiwan, Hong Kong, USA, China / Mandarin / 2001) by Ang Lee, co-written and produced by Lee’s longtime collaborator and Qumra Master, James
The ‘New Voices in Cinema’ screenings include two feature films granted by the Doha Film Institute: “ Mediterranea” (Italy, France, Germany, Qatar/
Arabic, English, French, Italian; 2015) by Jonas Carpignano being sold internationally by NDM and WME; “Roundabout in my Head”/ “Fi rassi roun-point” (Algeria,
France, Qatar/Arabic/2015); and two award-winning short films “Waves 98” by Ely
Dagher (Lebanon, Qatar / Arabic / 2015), winner of the Palme d’Or for Best Short Film at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and “The Palm Tree ” (Qatar, No Dialogue, 2015) by Jasim Al Rumaihi, winner of the 2015 Ajyal Youth Film Festival Made in Qatar Award for Best
“We are privileged to have James Schamus and Joshua Oppenheimer participate as Qumra Masters this year,” said Doha Film Institute CEO Fatma Al Remaihi.
“Both filmmakers, while very different in style, are truly ground-breaking in their fields and bring a wealth of experience to Qumra that will be
invaluable for the young filmmakers participating.”
“We look forward to welcoming James and Joshua to the Gulf region for the first time and enabling our Qumra 2016 participants to establish a connection
with these two leaders of independent filmmaking in the US.”
Both Schamus and Oppenheimer were born in the US and combine their acclaimed filmmaking careers with other roles within the industry: Schamus as a revered
film historian and academic; and Oppenheimer as Artistic Director of the Centre for Documentary and Experimental Film at the University of Westminster in
Schamus, a multi award-winning screenwriter, director and leading US indie producer, is best known for his long creative collaboration with Taiwanese
director Ang Lee. He has worked with Lee on nine films, including “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000), which won four Academy Awards, including Best
Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography, and remains the highest-grossing non-English-language film in the US. He was the screenwriter for Lee’s “The
Ice Storm”, for which he won the award for Best Screenplay at the Festival de Cannes in 1997 and co-wrote “Eat Drink Man Woman” (1994), the first
of Lee’s films to achieve both critical and commercial success.
As a producer, Schamus co-founded the US powerhouse production company Good Machine in the early 1990s, and then from 2002 to 2014 was CEO of Focus
Features, the motion picture production, financing and worldwide distribution company whose films during his tenure included Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise
Kingdom” (2012), Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist “(2002), Henry Selick’s Coraline (2009) and
Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” (2003).
In 2014, Schamus turned his hand to directing with the short documentary “That Film About Money” (2014), and in 2016 made his feature directorial debut
with an adaptation of Philip Roth’s “Indignation,” which had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2016 and is screening at this
year’s Berlin International Film Festival in the Panorama section.
Schamus is also Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where he teaches film history and theory, and is the author
of ‘Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Gertrud: The Moving Word’, published by the University of Washington Press.
, the Artistic Advisor to Doha Film Institute, recalls how he and James grew up together in New York as long-time friends. James introduced him to the
Chilean master filmmaker Raul Ruiz. Schamus helped him with his short film while at Good Machine. He helped edit the script and was his guardian angel
helping with his first contract. They even had a code for “urgent”. When Elia was in Jerusalem and James in London they used the code whenever Elia was
overwhelmed by the paperwork needed. James would answer within 15 minutes. Now James has come full circle on his own, from being one of the most important
producers of the decade to directing his own film. When asked by Qumra what was most important, he said first time filmmakers were the most important. And
he has always been able to spot the most talented of emerging filmmakers.
Two-time Academy Award nominee Joshua Oppenheimer’s debut feature-length film, “The Act of Killing” (2012) was nominated for the Academy Award for
Best Documentary Feature Film, named Film of the Year by The Guardian and the Sight and Sound Film Poll, and won 72 international awards, including a
European Film Award, a BAFTA, an Asia Pacific Screen Award, a Berlin International Film Festival Audience Award, and the Guardian Film Award for Best Film.
His second film, “The Look of Silence” (2014) had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, where it won five awards including the
Grand Jury Prize, the FIPRESCI Prize and the FEDEORA Prize. It was nominated for the 2016 Oscar for Best Documentary Film, and has received 66
international awards, including an International Documentary Association Award for Best Documentary, a Gotham Award for Best Documentary, and three Cinema
Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking.
Oppenheimer is a partner at the Final Cut for Real production company in Copenhagen, and Artistic Director of the Centre for Documentary and Experimental
Film at the University of Westminster, London.
Many of the industry guests include returnees as well as the new guests which count Bero Beyer, Rotterdam; Tine Fisher, CPH Dox; Christophe Le Parc,
Director’s Fortnight, Cannes; Vincenzo Bugno, World Cinema Fund, Berlinale; Cameron Bailey, TIFF and Carlo Chatrian, Locarno here for their second time;
Sundance for its first year; Matthijs Wouter Knol, European Film Market; Mike Goodridge, Protagonist; Memento Films, Arte; Michael Werner, Fortissimo; Alaa
Karkouti, MAD Solutions and Selim El Azar, Gulf Films.
Also attending for the first time will be Netflix who picked up “Under the Shadow” an elevated horror/ thriller partially funded by the Doha Film
Institute, Film Movement and the Ford Foundation.
Previous Qumra Masters include Mexican actor, director and producer Gael Garcia Bernal (“Amores Perros”; “No”; “Deficit”), Mauritanian director
Abderrahmane Sissako (Timbuktu – nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2015 Academy Awards); Romanian auteur and Palme d’Or winner Cristian
Mungiu (“4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”; “Beyond the Hills”); and Bosnian writer/director Danis Tanović (“An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker”;
“Tigers”, “No Man’s Land” – winner of Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2001).