Amanda Palmer Named Executive Director
Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF) today announced 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 DTFF 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 award-winning Palestinian filmmaker Scandar Copti serving as Community Outreach Programmer.
Doha Tribeca Film Festival will run October 29 to November 1, 2009 and is being produced by Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) in collaboration with the Tribeca Film Festival.
“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 QMA. “This team is going to impact the way this region experiences film.”
“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. “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.”
“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. “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 Gilmore. “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.”
Copti and Maklouf are working to uncover local and regional film talent, while Palmer and Gilmore are exploring new works from established filmmakers to present works from emerging artists that appeals to the Qatari population, the majority of which is under 30 years old.
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 renowned Museum of Islamic Art.
“As the heart of culture and artistic scholarly vision in Doha, we’re delighted to host this Festival,” said Abdullah Al Najjar, chief executive officer at Qatar Museums Authority. “We look forward to welcoming new audiences.”
Up to date information can be found at www.dohatff.com. The official website will launch August 18.
Doha Tribeca Film Festival was formed through a strategic partnership by Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and CEO Abdulla Al Najjar of the Qatar Museums Authority and the Tribeca Film Festival Founders, Jane Rosenthal, Craig Hatkoff, and Robert De Niro. The arrangement was spearheaded by DTFF Executive Director Amanda Palmer. Uniquely Qatari in its identity, the Festival is modeled on the success of Tribeca Film Festival’s dedication to engage the local community and promote filmmaking talent. In its inaugural year, Doha’s first international film festival will celebrate the best of Arabic and international cinema. Its ongoing aim will be to inspire, engage and educate a new generation of cinema appreciation locally; discover, mentor and fund regional filmmaking talent; foster a community through art and entertainment; and encourage open discussion and debate.
Following is biographical information on DTFF leadership:
Doha Tribeca Film Festival
Palmer leads the inaugural Doha Tribeca Film Festival. Palmer joins DTFF from Al Jazeera English, where she is Head of Entertainment and has created, produced, directed and presents the network’s flagship arts and educational programming and is commissioning editor of entertainment. Her award-nominated travel series, “48,” and her acclaimed international film programme, “The Fabulous Picture Show,” (FPS) have established her as a leading cultural expert. Palmer’s work has led to international recognition for unwavering support of international and independent filmmakers. By creating an unprecedented global platform for filmmakers, Palmer has discovered new and emerging talent which has resulted in distribution deals for a number of artists. Throughout her career in front and behind the camera, Palmer’s never shied from storytelling which challenges that status quo. After receiving her bachelor of arts in journalism from Sydney’s University of Technology, Palmer studied theatre and music. She began her career as a national reporter for Channel Seven network in Australia before relocating to London to become the youngest woman ever to run their European foreign bureau. She then moved to CNN and Associated Press TV before joining Al Jazeera English in August 2005. She currently serves on Qatar’s National Film Committee.
Chief Creative Officer/Board Member
Gilmore is responsible for leading Tribeca’s creative development initiatives and expansion of the brand. He came to Tribeca from the Sundance Institute where he served as the Director of the Sundance Film Festival, where he was responsible for film selection and programming since 1990. In addition, Gilmore has been a consultant for the Sundance Channel since 1996 and also served as consultant to the Sundance Cinemas. With Sundance he developed numerous international and national projects and symposia. For 14 years, he served as head of the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s programming. Geoff has also taught a course in the UCLA Department of Film and Television on independent production and has also lectured in Paris, Germany, Japan, and China. He served on the board of the Independent Feature Project/West and the advisory board of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, and he has served on the council for the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, the Rockefeller Foundation, and other organizations and committees. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and did his post-graduate work at UCLA.
Abdulla Al-Najjar, Engineer
Chief Executive Officer
Qatar Museums Authority
Al-Najjar’s career in engineering spans 20 years in Qatar and the Middle East. In 2004, he joined the Doha Asian Games Organising Committee as Planning, Coordination and Integration Director and became Main Operations Center Director. After the Asian Games in 2007, Al-Najjar became Director of Commercial Affairs at the Al-Jazeera network. He joined the Higher Management team of Qatar Museums Authority to oversee the building and opening of the Museum of Islamic Art. In his role, he is a principle leader in shaping the cultural, scholarly and artistic achievements in the region.
Regional Programs Advisor
Doha Tribeca Film Festival
As one of the region’s foremost experts on Arab documentary and short films, Maklouf will be responsible for developing regional programs that discover and nurture Arab filmmaking talent. A British national of Libyan origin, he has been a filmmaker and film journalist since 1983. He organized the first Arab cartoon festival in London in 1989 and has worked as a consultant on short and documentary films for several Arab and British television companies. Maklouf is the Founder and Executive Director of the Arab Screen Independent Film Festival (ASIFF), which specializes in Arab short films and documentary films. He was a member of the international jury of the Milan African Film Festival in Italy in 2002, served as jury president of the Emirates Film Competition in 2003, and served as a consultant on the Human Rights program at the Lucerne International Film Festival in 2003. He also worked as Chief consultant and chief Programmer for the Arabian Shorts program of Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) 2004 to 2005.
Community Outreach Programmer
Doha Tribeca Film Festival
Copti is a Palestinian filmmaker born and raised in Jaffa, and will be responsible for developing local community programs. After leaving his profession as a mechanical engineer to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a filmmaker, his first full-length feature film “Ajami” won the Camera d’Or Special Mention at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and Best Movie Award at the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2009. After studying acting and scriptwriting, Copti made THE TRUTH, a 12-minute mockumentary that was produced by the Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival to national and international acclaim. Since then Copti has written, directed and edited several fiction, documentary and experimental short films.