*Legaspi’s film, Falling Leaves, directed and written by Brazilian director Dimitri Yuri, was selected to be part of Ajyal’s Made in Qatar competition this year
Ajyal Film Festival’s jury programme inspires and encourages young people to have their voices heard and step out of their comfort zone, Doha-based Filipino film producer Jemina Legaspi has said.
“The concept of having young jurors is something I truly support. Children always have something interesting to say, but not all of them are confident enough,” she told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the annual festival, presented by Doha Film Institute (DFI).
Legaspi’s film, Falling Leaves, directed and written by Brazilian director Dimitri Yuri, was selected to be part of Ajyal’s Made in Qatar competition this year.
She said their film is about a relationship between two siblings – a brother guides his younger sister through the inner workings of their family business: embalming dead bodies.
“I was one of the shy ones as a kid and as someone who's always had a love for storytelling and children in particular, it warms my heart to see a platform like this available to them,” Legaspi said. “I honestly wish I had the same opportunity when I was young."
Yuri shares the same view saying that young people “can tell when a movie is doing something different and something that sparks their imagination.”
“At the heart of every filmmaker is a child. We can be addressing the most difficult, heavy topics there are, but we do it through a lens of creative exploration. I think children pick up on that,” he said. “At the same time, they're brutally honest. If they say your movie is boring, it's not like you can disagree with them.”
The seventh edition of Ajyal marked its official jury opening event recently at Katara – the Cultural Village, welcoming more than 450 jurors from 45 countries.
Ajyal’s jury programme, as part of the Ajyal Competition, gives young people aged between 8 and 21 an opportunity to view, discuss and evaluate the films showcased at the festival and discover cinema as a medium of global positive change.
About the efforts of DFI in promoting Made in Qatar films on the global stage, Yuri stressed that Ajyal serves as the best way for Doha-based filmmakers to present their stories and a great opportunity to meet future collaborators.
“If you think about the greatest movements in the history of cinema, they are usually tied to a certain place, and a certain group of filmmakers – all competing with one another, all inspiring one another. A platform like Made in Qatar is how these things start,” he explained.
About Qatar’s film industry, Yuri underlined its uniqueness – a highly diverse industry where “everyone is from everywhere.”
“My team is a crucible of different cultures, viewpoints and creative sensibilities. I don't think I'd ever find diversity like this in my home country of Brazil, for example,” he said.
Legaspi echoed his statement saying that Qatar is filled with people from diverse backgrounds and a country which helped her expand her connections within the film industry.
About the annual festival, she said she feels fortunate to be surrounded with many talented filmmakers from different countries across the globe.
“A few films I've previously worked on have been screened at Ajyal before. But this is my first time screening a film I produced and co-funded with Dimitri at Ajyal. It's been a wonderful experience so far and couldn't be more grateful to DFI for this opportunity,” said Legaspi, who met Yuri in high school and shared their passion for filmmaking.
About the theme of the film, Yuri said he wanted “to make a film that addressed different stages of life, treating death as just another seasonal transition.”
“We often think of death as an enemy, even though it is likely the only thing that all of us, without exception, have in common,” he said. “The girl is becoming a woman, the brother is becoming a mentor, and the woman on the table has reached the end of her stay here on earth.”
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