Young jurors pick best films at Ajyal’s closing
December 05 2017 02:23 AM

The fifth Ajyal Youth Film Festival, presented by the Doha Film Institute (DFI), concluded yesterday with the awarding of winners of its ‘Ajyal Competition,’ voted by young jurors in three categories – Mohaq (aged 8 to 12), Hilal (aged 13 to 17) and Bader (aged 18 to 21). 
For Mohaq, At Eye Level directed by Joachim Dollhopf and Evi Goldbrunner (Germany/2016) won the Best Feature while Sing directed by Kristóf Deák (Hungary/2016) won the Best Short.
For Hilal, The Breadwinner directed by Nora Twomey (Ireland, Luxembourg, Canada/2017) bagged the Best Feature while Mare Nostrum directed by Rana Kazkaz and Anas Khalaf (France, Syria/2016) bagged the Best Short. For Bader, Loving Vincent directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman (UK, Poland, Qatar/2017) received the Best Feature while All of Us directed by Katja Benrath  (Germany, Kenya/2017) received the Best Short.
DFI noted that 48 films made it to the Ajyal Competition this year: four feature-length films and 12 shorts in the Mohaq programme; four feature-length films and 10 shorts in Hilal; and four feature-length films and 14 shorts in Bader.
Each of the Ajyal juries voted for the Best Film prize for their favourite short and feature-length films, for a total of six awards. The winners were honoured at the closing night ceremony, which was followed by the screening of Loving Vincent (Poland, UK, Qatar), a co-production by DFI and directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman. The film also won this year’s Audience Award. 
The closing ceremony also included a special screening of musical project film Summer Cloud directed by Ali al-Tayeb and Mohammed Sharif, and demonstrates the unity and solidarity of Qatar’s vibrant nation and how traditions and heritage are deeply rooted in their daily lives.
The winner of the Bariq Award, which is given by the youngest festival-goers, children aged under eight, was Little Bird and the Caterpillar (Switzerland/2017), a whimsical animation about adversaries becoming friends in which a little bird tending to the leaves on a nearby branch is confronted by a pesky caterpillar that eats all the buds.
Jurors voted on their preferred name for the recently unveiled mascot of Ajyal this year. Named ‘Shehab’, the falcon-like character embodies Ajyal’s five values of curiosity, empowerment, film, friendship and joy, and will represent future editions of the festival.
Earlier, the festival also awarded the winners in the Made in Qatar programme, presented by Occidental Petroleum Qatar, which included 16 films by Qatari directors and those who call Qatar home. This year, the Festival once again featured the Ajyal Talks, a series of open discussions about real, globally relevant issues and the power that film can have in increasing awareness. 
Subjects included child trafficking, the way media influences perceptions and the power of art in overcoming adversity, and concluded with a special conversation with visual artist Shirin Neshat. The festival was held from November 29. The largest to date, it screened 103 films from 43 countries, including 20 feature films and 83 short films, illustrating the ability of storytelling to transcend borders, transform minds and touch hearts. 
The films demonstrated the power of cinema to stimulate discussions about real, globally relevant issues and the resilience of creativity.
The fifth Ajyal also featured the SONY Cinema Under the Stars, Special Screenings, Family Weekend activities, Geekdom, a festival of all things pop culture and LeBlockade, a multimedia exhibition of work created in response to the blockade. Katara – the Cultural Village served as the Cultural Partner, Qatar Tourism Authority as the Strategic Partner, and Occidental Petroleum Corporation and Ooredoo as the Principal Partners.

Festival director Fatima al-Remaihi, deputy festival director Abdullah al-Mussallam with the winners of the Ajyal competition. PICTURE: Eamonn M McCormack/Getty Images

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