Northwestern sponsors national high school film festival

Northwestern University in Qatar has partnered with Qatar Academy to support a national high school film competition that will see young people produce their own documentaries.

The annual NU-THIMUN-Qatar Film Festival, being held for the second time, is spearheaded by Qatar Academy, which runs a diploma program in film. Last year, around 30 films from 21 different schools in Doha were entered for the competition.

The competition is aimed at ‘creating a platform for student film-making talent and artistic vision’, according to organizers. It is open to all high school students with an interest in filmmaking. The deadline for submissions is February 1.

As sponsor of this year’s competition, NU-Q will support the project by providing equipment, marketing, and supplying four members of its faculty to serve as contest judges.

Anne Peterson and Tim Wilkerson from the School of Communication will provide expertise in cinematography and documentary-making, alongside Ibrahim Abusharif and Miriam Berg from the Medill School of Journalism whose expertise in narrative and television production will ensure the highest standards of adjudication and professional insight.

Emily Wilson, outreach coordinator for Northwestern, said: “NU-Q’s commitment to the NU-THIMUN-Qatar film festival is more than just corporate sponsorship; we see ourselves as knowledge partners. We are committed to working hands-on with the film festival organizers and reaching out to as many schools as possible.”

The documentaries will address topics of universal interest – human rights, sustainable development, and the environment – while making them relevant to Qatar.  Prizes will be awarded for best cinematography, editing, picture, story and sound. The Best Picture winner will receive QR10,000 while other winners will receive prizes and trophies.

In the future, Northwestern aims to increase its involvement with Qatar Academy and other schools in Qatar, through ongoing initiatives such as weekend workshops and after school classes. Outreach is an integral part of the University’s goal of connecting with the educational community and supporting the needs of students in Qatar.

Following the success of Al Jazeera, and the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, which is now held annually in Qatar, the festival is the latest effort to increase opportunities for young people to get involved in film and bolster Doha’s prominence as a hub for filmmaking in the Middle East. According to Wilson, there are plans to expand the competition beyond Qatar in the future, introducing filmmaking to an international student audience.

The awards ceremony will take place on March 24 during a Gala Awards Dinner at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Doha. Tickets for the ceremony will go on sale at Qatar Academy in late February and in Virgin Megastore in early March.