NY's Tribeca to launch film festival in Qatar

Actor and director Robert De Niro waits for the start of a media day regarding this year's Tribeca Film Festival in New York April 13, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York’s Tribeca Film Festival, founded by actor Robert De Niro after the September 11 attacks, plans to stage a new festival in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar next year.

Created as a way to rejuvenate lower Manhattan after the 2001 al Qaeda attacks, Tribeca has become a showcase for international films with a political edge, and organizers said the Tribeca Film Festival Doha would do the same.

“We hope that film will not only be used as a form of entertainment at Tribeca Film Festival Doha but play a role in bridging cultures closer together,” De Niro said in a statement released late on Sunday.

“By learning each other’s stories, we can see how much we share in common as well as explore and better understand our differences,” he said.

The first festival will take place in November 2009 at the new Museum of Islamic Art and at cinemas across the Qatari capital of Doha, with around 40 films on the program.

“The festival will include a wide range of programing, from outdoor screenings to movies for children, from documentaries to new Hollywood releases and from independent films to showcases of the very best works by Arab filmmakers,” said Abdullah Al Najjar, chief executive officer of the Qatar Museums Authority.

The statement said the festival would be an outlet for movies made by Middle Eastern filmmakers that show the pluralism of Arab culture rather than just extremes.

“At present, they have little to no filmmakers to speak of in Qatar and the Gulf States,” the statement said. “To get an industry started you have to start with the first step and Qatar expects Tribeca Film Festival Doha to be the first step.”

Qatar, which borders Saudi Arabia, is an ally of the United States that hosts the U.S. Central Command at a huge military base on the outskirts of Doha. In the media world, it is best known as the home of the Al Jazeera Network, arguably the dominant news service for the Arabic-speaking world.