NU-Q students screen films at Ajyal
December 11, 2016
By Assma Youssef
Four films produced by Northwestern University in Qatar students and alumni were screened at this year’s Ajyal Youth Film Festival, with one winning the Best Narrative Film Award.
The fourth edition of the annual festival, organized by the Doha Film Institute, took place from Nov 30th to Dec. 5th at Katara Cultural Village. Ajyal, meaning ‘generations’ in Arabic, invites people of all ages to come together to discuss cinema, documentary-making and art.
Films by NU-Q students or alumni included “Kashta” by A.J. Al-Thani, “Makh’bz” by Aisha AlMuhannadi, “9956” by Zaki Hussain and “Amer: An Arabian Legend” by Jassim Al-Rumaihi.
“As a student filmmaker, I do not get a chance to network and work with filmmakers from outside the boundaries of the school much. Festivals like Ajyal help me connect with other filmmakers [and] it is important because filmmaking is very collaborative,” said Zaki Hussain, a junior at NU-Q whose satirical film was screened under the Made in Qatar program of the festival. “I was very happy that the whole crew had a chance to be on the red carpet because that was the first time for many of us.”
Hussain added he was disappointed by the fact that the festival dates coincided with the final exam week at universities in Qatar. As a result, he could not attend several screenings at the festival.
A.J. Al-Thani, another student from NU-Q who directed the Best Narrative Film winning “Kashta,” said she got involved with Ajyal by working with Doha Film Institute.
“The festival experience was great for networking and meeting other filmmakers and learning from their experiences,” said Al-Thani. She added that Ajyal could be improved by having “a Gulf short film competition like the one in Dubai [because then] Qatari filmmakers could compete with other filmmakers in the Gulf for bigger prizes.”
— Doha Film Institute (@DohaFilm) December 2, 2016
Al-Thani’s favorite part of the festival was having her film compete in Mohaq, a category of films targeting young people of age eight and above. The jurors of the Mohaq category were children and they asked very unexpected and thought-provoking questions, Al-Thani said.
This year’s festival schedule included many feature-length and short film presentations, hard-hitting documentaries, local films and a variety of international film screenings. Additionally, the festival held a series of talks on controversial contemporary issues like social responsibility, youth empowerment, refugees and the current migrant crisis. It also hosted a creativity hub giving children the chance to paint, draw and play video games.
Assma Youssef is a freelance writer and editor at the Organization for World Peace. She has previously been published in several online publications including Allegra.lab, the OWP, Sister-hood, Al-Mufaqira Journal and Redbrick.