Nearly 600 Ajyal jurors are to assess a selection of 12 feature films, including several award-winning works by leading and emerging directors, during the special 10th edition of the Ajyal Film Festival to be held from October 1-8, 2022 The selected films celebrate diversity and cover a wide range of themes – from dealing with grief and mental health issues, to playful comedies about brotherly affection, to how millennials are adjusting to realities. that surround them.
Feature films and a large selection of 26 short films, already announced, will be screened for the Ajyal Jury in the three categories of the competition — Mohaq (jurors aged 8 to 12); Hilal (13 to 17 years old) and Bader (18 to 25 years old). They will watch the films, discuss them with their peers around the world and evaluate them to select the winners of the festival.
“Delivering inspiring stories of connection, optimism, and the human spirit to overcome adversity through powerfully creative storytelling, this year’s feature film selection stands out with bold themes that resonate with young people around the world. world,” said Fatma Hassan Alremaihi, director general of the Doha Film Institute and director of the festival. She added that “many films have young protagonists successfully dealing with the challenges around them in an increasingly complex world. The themes are handled with sensitivity and continue to convey messages of hope and positivity to inspire our youth to reflect, make meaningful connections, and find a deeper understanding of shared human experience.
The four feature films in the Mohaq category, to be evaluated by jurors aged 8 to 12, include:
· Dounia and the Princess of Aleppo (Canada, France/2022), by Marya Zarif and André Kadi, pictured above, talks about the young Dounia, who likes to play, learn and discover new recipes. As bombs fall around them, the family decides to flee in search of a new home with only a few possessions and a bit of magic in hand. The film is about displacement, war and loss, but the optimistic attitude of the protagonists as well as enchanting musical scenes make for an upbeat experience full of hope and wonder.
· apple day (Iran, Turkey/2022), by Mahmoud Ghaffari, is a story of kinship, brotherly love and perseverance. It depicts the young Mahdi, who is learning the alphabet and his teacher has the creative idea of rooting the new letters in real objects. As Mahdi’s father is an apple seller, his duty is to bring each student an apple for the class on ‘S’. But when the family’s van is stolen, it triggers a chain of events that makes 30 apples a Herculean challenge.
· Big man (Netherlands, Germany/2022) by Camiel Schouwenaar is a classic football tale and is loosely based on screenwriter Job Tichelman’s own life as a disabled football player. The film follows the life of Dylan and his best friend Youssef who share the same dream of becoming professional footballers, but a tragic accident leaves Dylan partially paralyzed as he searches for new ways to practice his beloved sport.
· Princess Dragon (France/2022) by Jean-Jacques Denis, Anthony Roux follows Bristle, a young girl with a very special childhood, raised by a dragon! A bit different from her two dragon brothers, Bristle makes her own way in the world and embarks on a journey of discovery into the human world. The story contains many classic fairy tale elements, but weaves them together beautifully to create a fresh and compelling tale of friendship, togetherness, betrayal and greed.
The four feature films screened in the Hilal category, by jurors aged 13 to 17, are:
· After Yang (USA/2022) a sci-fi drama written, directed and edited by Kogonada. The plot follows a family’s attempt to fix their unresponsive robotic child. When his young daughter’s beloved companion – an android named Yang – breaks down, Jake (Colin Farrell) searches for a way to fix it. In the process, Jake discovers the life that has unfolded before him, reconnecting with his wife and daughter at a distance he never knew was there.
· queen of comedy (Sweden/2021) by Sanna Lenken, winner of the Generation Kplus Crystal Bear award at the 2022 Berlin International Film Festival. The film tells the story of 13-year-old Sasha, who wants to become a comedian. For Sasha, stand-up is an outlet to finally come to terms with the loss and re-establish a relationship with her father in this touching coming-of-age drama.
· Winner of the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival 2022, The territory (Brazil, Denmark, USA/2022), by Alex Pritz, follows the vital and inspiring struggle of the indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people of Brazil to defend their lands against non-indigenous farmers who intend to colonize their protected territory. The film draws on both Indigenous and farmer perspectives to chronicle a conflict that has profound implications for the survival of a people and the planet.
· Until tomorrow (Iran, France, Qatar/2022) by Ali Asgari was supported by DFI and depicts millennials and how they are re-examining the value system in Iran and many other countries. The film follows Fereshteh, a young mother facing a dire dilemma, and her odyssey, taking viewers into the shoes of Iran’s capital, to understand how young people gained the courage and confidence to challenge traditional ways of life. and break with the patriarchy.
In the Bader category, which will see jurors aged 18 to 25 evaluate them, the four feature films, which include three docs and a story, are:
· Our brothers (France/2022) by three-time Oscar® nominee Rachid Bouchareb looks back on the dramatic events in Paris in December 1986, when thousands of students took to the streets to protest harsh higher education reforms. Abdel, 20, is tragically shot by a policeman and a few hours later, Malik is chased and beaten to death by three policemen. As revolt threatens to break out among a population horrified by the murder of Malik in the heart of their city, the families of the two victims are struggling to understand what really happened that night. The film stars Lyna Khoudri and Reda Kateb, and premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
· Kash Kash – Without feathers we cannot live (Lebanon, Germany/2022), by Lea Najjar, also a DFI-supported film, is set in Beirut, torn apart by a corrupt political elite, anti-government protests and one of the biggest explosions of the 21st century. But above the roofs of the city hovers an unexpected bearer of hope: the game of chance “Kash Hamam”. In a city facing unprecedented modern challenges, its residents still manage to find solace through their long-held traditions in this moving portrait of hope in the face of despair.
· My sister Liv (Australia, USA/2022), a feature-length documentary directed by Alan Hicks, which follows inseparable sisters Tess and Liv. Liv is a young girl growing up under the relentless pressure of social media, depression, body dysmorphia, and often suicidal thoughts. The film takes us on an intimate journey of Liv’s raw emotions and fears of a young life on the edge, and ultimately Tess’ desperate struggle to save her. It reveals the realities of stigma around mental health and the consequences for those left behind after a suicide.
· Hafreiat (Spain, Qatar, Jordan/2022) by Alex Sardà is an empathetic documentary that chronicles a man’s relationship with his family as they try to find safety in uncertain times. Abo Day, a fugitive is hired for a Spanish archaeological expedition to Jordan. The working conditions are harsh and the only realistic solution is to return to Amman, which his family does not want to do because of the risk of reconnecting with his criminal past. The film questions the possibility of true rehabilitation in a society reluctant to forget a person’s past transgressions.
For more information on the Ajyal Film Festival, see the Doha Film Institute’s website.