A new leaf of Qatar filmmaking, the continuity of art and li...| MENAFN.COM

Wednesday, 26 January 2022 10:52 GMT

A new leaf of Qatar filmmaking, the continuity of art and life


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) By Joelyn Baluyut | The Peninsula

The leaf changes in every season, it withers, it grows, and it springs. New colour, new frontier, a new life. The works of nature is a patient artist, and Majid Al Remaihi's film, like the leaf, is the continuity of art and life.

How do you cope up with loss? A memorial loss? Questions many would find hard to answer. Majid turned this into a film And Then They Burn The Sea, produced by the Doha Film Institute.“My short film is a homage to my mother's memories, cinema, and the processing of that kind of abnormal loss, when the loved one hasn't passed away, but their memories and sense of familiarity have.”

The dramatic substance that Majid have to bear with familial memory and loss is almost difficult to comprehend. He coined his short film as“a meditation on mourning.” He explained:“this is my own mourning, but also our late history of mourning practices. It partially honours the way that women used to mourn for their sons and husbands, when they weren't absolutely gone, but potentially never coming back from their pearl diving trips. It wasn't easy looking at the home videos and archives alone during the editing process. I don't think the film itself is a resolution to that experience for me, but the ritualistic aspect of making it was heavily therapeutic.”

Majid was referring to rituals of Qatari women that lament their loved ones who may never be returned by the sea. During the old times, these women burn a stick and throw it into the sea water, thus the name of the film was derived from. Pearl diving was the main source of livelihood in the country before oil was found.

Melancholic as it may sound, the narrative spreads light to acceptance. It's almost ineffable to describe what he had gone through, but the film unfolds naturally. He portrayed the 13-minute short film“like a breakthrough. Because I often felt like it wasn't going to fall into place, but it has eventually.”

It did fall into the right places. It has been awarded on both local and international arena. It won Made in Qatar Best Documentary Prize on this year's 9th Ajyal Film Festival; first-ever to be selected to screen at 75 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland; Silver Tahit Award, Carthage Film Festival; Best Experimental Short, Message to Man International Film Festival in St. Petersburg; and Special Mention at FrontDoc International Film Festival in Italy.

Making history at a very young age, Majid is only 26 years old.


Majid Al Remaihi during the 9th Ajyal Film Festival red carpet premiere 

The artist, filmmaker and film programmer, is just another person trying to get by through life. He never studied filmmaking, but has immense knowledge in sociology, history and politics. The mixture of several branches of social science made him.“Having marinated my brain in the social sciences, I have at times felt that it has acted as a barrier to some of the eclectic spontaneity that I wish I had, but it also allows me to be thoughtful about my relationship to the production of images and the sociohistorical structures which they are made in.”

He never“fell in love” with filmmaking until he, himself was behind the camera. The industry has expanded his horizons and viewpoints. He jokingly said:“Filmmaking is still work, a lot of it, and at times it's not necessarily gratifying either!”

Swaying to popcorn movies, when asked why he chose independent filmmaking, he answered:“I don't know! Why not?.” Moreover, he said that the core of a movie is not just about entertainment.“There is something very existential and important about watching a film in the theatre, which isn't solely trying to make you lose track of time, but instead very much make you aware of it.”

He also narrated that it does not matter why is he different compared to other filmmakers.“Cinema thrives on the diversity of visions and I hope we're in a place where we're not all trying to do the same thing.” Can you even imagine if everyone is doing the same content? It's tedious.

Unlike in other countries, Qatar is still springing with budding filmmakers, a guarantee that the future of this industry will go into new heights. With the support like the Doha Film Institute and hosting festivals such as Ajyal, it is foreseeable that this country is on the right path. Majid also shared the same sentiments.
“There is a vacuum within our imagination for what cinema can be here and regionally and I feel a sense of urgency to explore that. Filmmaking in Qatar is critically connected to filmmaking around the region, and the world, because of the longevity of institutions like the Doha Film Institute. It's somewhat necessary to explore the opportunities that exist within that kind of encounter with the world. However, I think we haven't arrived at a place where I feel excited about what's happening yet, but I think it's good to remain optimistic,” he explained.

Holding back, the biggest challenge in making a film in the country is on psychological and cultural deadlock. Majid said that as much as they love seeing their work on screen, many of them don't want to actually be or feel seen.“There is a lot of anxiety around that kind of confrontation (cultural and personal) which is core to making a film.”

Waiting for another film? He said he will have a one or two short films first before tackling something as demanding as a feature film.

And an advise to those who wants to get into film:“There is never any need to rush, and you're never too old or too young receiving mentorship or help from those who are offering it.”

More than his film And Then They Burn The Sea, Majid is a spark, a light that portrays that it is acceptable to share your deepest longing and yearnings in a film. And as the season changes, the credits roll, and as the leaves fall, so is another bloom.

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