The Qumra Doha Film Festival, a platform for aspiring local filmmakers, has been postponed until next year as rumours swirl that the Doha Film Institute (DFI) has overspent.
The DFI issued a statement on its website saying that Qumra, which had been due to take place this March, had been rescheduled until 2015: “This will enable us to channel our resources to deliver on our primary objectives, create more platforms for Qatari and regional talent to sharpen their skills, and provide increased educational and financing opportunities,” the statement said. “These, in turn, will contribute to added value for our film festival initiatives, and put the global spotlight on our talent.”
The news comes less than two months after the Institute held the inaugural Ajyal Youth Film Festival in Qatar.
The two festivals – Ajyal and Qumra – were announced following the end of the partnership between the DFI and Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival in April 2013. Previously, De Niro and other Hollywood stars had taken part in the annual Doha Tribeca Film Festival every October or November, giving a huge international boost to the profile of Qatar within the film industry.
Website Screen Daily reported that industry sources were speculating that overspending on the youth festival in November was the reason for Qumra’s postponement. A Doha News report fuelled the rumour, quoting a former staffer who worked on the Ajyal Festival: “We heard that the budget for the two festivals would be less than one DTFF, and it was all shot on Ajyal. Managers told their staff to spend every riyal of their budget whether they needed to or not, or they’d never get as big a budget again.”
Former staffers also claimed around 40 DFI employees were recently made redundant, most with little notice, though there were generous severance packages, according to the Doha News article.