A scene from the Beirut of the Balkans, a grantee in the Experimental and Essay category.
DOHA/BERLIN: Benjamin Naishtat’s debut feature film, History of Fear, set to have its world premiere today as part of the Berlinale Official Competition line-up, was among the 20 projects selected for the first global grants programme of the Doha Film Institute (DFI) announced yesterday.
The recipients were announced at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival.
Aimed at identifying new cinematic talent worldwide, with a focus on first- and second-time filmmakers, the fund received 396 applications for its first international cycle. The fund was previously open only to the Middle East-North Africa (Mena) region.
Applications were evaluated by an independent jury in December 2013 and were considered across three regional categories. The Mena region accounted for the majority, 200 of the total applications, followed by the DAC countries at 108, and 88 from the rest of the world.
Of the 20 projects from 24 countries will receive funding for development, production and post-production, nine hail from Mena, underlining the emergence of cinematic talent. Eight of the grantees are from the OCED’s Development Assistance Committee list of countries (DAC), and three from the rest of the world.
They include highly anticipated projects by emerging talents from Argentina, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Uruguay alongside projects from Mena countries including Algeria, Iraqi Kurdistan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia.
In total, the grants will support 12 narrative films, including two shorts (one fiction and one experimental), seven feature documentaries and one experimental documentary.
Abdulaziz Al Khater, DFI’s Chief Executive Officer, Doha Film Institute, said:
“We have seen tremendous success over the past three years with our Mena Grants programme, through which we have supported more than 130 projects. We are committed to the expansion of our grants initiative to include talented filmmakers from all over the world. I welcome our newest grant recipients as they join DFI’s growing international community of filmmakers.”
On the selection of DFI grantee ‘History of Fear’ in Berlinale’s Official Competition, Khalil Benkirane, Head of Grants, Doha Film Institute said: “Benjamin Naishtat’s History of Fear is an innovative project from an exciting new voice in world cinema. Our panel was deeply impressed with Naishtat’s daring approach to his debut feature, which examines and reconstructs notions of fear, and creates a tense, quietly disturbing experience for the viewer. This powerful film from an emerging South American talent is a prime example of the type of cinema our global grants programme seeks to support.”
Doha Film Institute will receive applications for the next grant session from April 1 to 21.
Interested filmmakers from the MENA region can apply for feature documentaries and narratives at development, production, and post-production stages. Short films can be submitted at production and post-production stages.