Qatar opened on Tuesday its annual Doha Tribeca Film Festival with "Black Gold," a movie by French director Jacques Annaud partly shot in the gas-rich Gulf country.
Starring Antonio Banderas and Freida Pinto, “Black Gold” is the first high budget film produced entirely in the Middle East and North Africa, by Doha Film Institute (DFI) in partnership with Tarak Ben Ammar's Quinta Communications.
Filmed in Qatar and Tunisia, the film tells the story of a 1930s emir, fighting to protect his land once oil is discovered in the region. Black Gold is directed by Jean Jacques Annaud and stars Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto and Mark Strong.
The third annual Doha Tribeca Film Festival will screen the celebrated black and white film The Artist by Michel Hazanavicius; The Lady, Luc Besson's biopic of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi; a documentary about South African singer Miriam Makeba, called 'Mama Africa'; and Kristin Scott Thomas and Ethan Hawke in the thriller 'The Woman in the Fifth'.
Omar Sherif and Lebanese director Nadine Labaki were on the red carpet for the opening as well as Pinto.
However, says Amanda Palmer, executive director, DFI: "This festival goes beyond the red carpet. It is a celebration of all aspects of film and our community programming opens doors to nurturing film culture for people of all ages."
The Made in Qatar competition, which is new this year, is also helping both national and expatriate filmmakers who have developed affinity with the Gulf state to tell their own stories. The competition, which will now become an annual fixture, carries a prize of QR10,000.
US actor and the founder of New York's Tribeca Film Festival, Robert De Niro, helped to organise the first Doha festival in 2009.
New York's Tribeca Film Festival was launched to boost cultural life in Manhattan after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
The Doha Tribeca Film Festival 2011 runs from 25-29 October at the Katara Cultural Village, Doha. It will end with a concert by British Grammy-nominated singer Leona Lewis.
Doha launched its festival this year four days after the end of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, in what is seen as a growing cultural competition between Gulf cities. Dubai is holding its own festival from December 7 to 14.
Film festivals in the Gulf states, spared the uprisings across the Arab world, have stolen the limelight this year after Damascus and Cairo cancelled their annual events due to unrest in both Egypt and Syria.