Opportunity abounds

Women filmmakers are dominating one country’s growing film industry

In the socially conservative country of Qatar, women are increasingly pursuing careers as filmmakers in the nation’s burgeoning cinema industry — and winning awards for their efforts. At this year’s Ajyal Film Festival in the capital city, Doha, women directors such as Aisha al-Shammakh, Nouf al-Sulaiti, and rising star Amal al-Muftah all took center stage with films that defied convention. Around 60 percent of all emerging Qatari filmmakers are women, according to a 2016 study from Northwestern University in Doha.

One short film on display at the festival, Gubgub (Crab), by Sulaiti, follows a fishing family as they go out to hunt crabs. The heart of the film revolves around the family’s young daughter and her desire to prove that she’s as suited as her elder brother to undertake the traditionally male pursuit.

“I want that little girl to believe that she can achieve whatever (she wants). I want little girls to see that,” said Sulaiti. “In the past, we got an education, we got married and we stayed at home with our husband. I think slowly [Qatari] girls are seeing we can do whatever our brothers can do.”

The film industry, she noted, provided women with a unique opportunity to elevate their voices into the public space.

“I feel like it gives us a platform where we can express ourselves,” she explained. “I don’t think we had that platform or opportunity before.”

Muftah, the director of Sh’hab (Shooting Star), a film about a girl who chooses to follow her father and brother to sea to pursue her dreams, said that the film’s story came from a tale passed down to her by her own grandmother.

“The community of women in Doha — especially in this society — are very private,” she said. “And I just feel like as women filmmakers we have access to that community and to so many different stories.”

Watch AFP’s interview with Muftah below.

Read the full story at Yahoo News.

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