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Mon 2 Nov 2009 07:54 AM

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Movie star De Niro praises 'dynamic' Doha

Hollywood legend says Doha Tribeca Film Festival worthy of 'wonderful city'.

Movie star De Niro praises 'dynamic' Doha
STAR TURN: Robert De Niro heaped praise on Doha during his appearance at the Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday night. (Getty Images)

Hollywood legend Robert De Niro heaped praise on Qatar's capital city as he closed the first Doha Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday night.

The actor, who founded the Tribeca festival in New York and announced plans for a Qatar version last year, flew into Doha to hand out awards to up and coming movie makers.

“Almost one year ago, we made an announcement to launch this festival,” De Niro said. “This has been an unforgettable and richly rewarding journey as we created an innovative partnership to build an event worthy of this wonderful and dynamic city.”

Amanda Palmer, executive director of DTFF, added: “Over the past four days and nights, we’ve seen that film can do more than just entertain; it can educate, inspire and unite communities.

"We hope that in time, the Doha Tribeca Film Festival can give the Qataris a platform to tell their stories to the world through the universal language of film.”

Team Qatar, an inspiring documentary about Qatar’s first national high school debate team, directed by Liz Mermin, won the Audience Award for Best Film in Festival on the closing night while Pomegranates and Myrrh, a love story starring Hiam Abbass, picked up the Audience Award for Best Arab Film in the Festival.

Organisers of the cultural event, a partnership between Tribeca Enterprises and the Qatar Museums Authority, also announced a significant expansion of the festival’s educational efforts.

Two new initiatives – screenwriting and directing labs and a Doha-New York exchange programme for aspiring filmmakers anchored in DTFF and Tribeca – will establish a year-round presence in Doha.

“Education is the centerpiece of our partnership,” said Geoff Gilmore, chief creative officer of Tribeca Enterprises.

“We are excited to work with Doha to support their cultural vision to inspire and educate their local community through film and create opportunities for voices to emerge from Qatar.”

The festival kicked off last Thursday with the Middle Eastern premiere of Amelia, director Mira Nair’s portrait of Amelia Earhart, which stars Hilary Swank, Richard Gere and Ewan MacGregor.

Over the course of the festival, a host of notables visited Qatar, including Nair, Martin Scorsese, Patricia Clarkson, Jeffrey Wright, Sir Ben Kingsley, Adel Emam, Youssra, Hiam Abbass, Haifa Hussein, Jassim Al Nabhan, Hayat Al Fahad, Saad Faraj, Dawood Hussain, Ibrahim Al-Zadjali, Khalid Amin, Khalid Al-Buraki and Habib Gholown.

The free screenings, workshops, panel discussions, concerts and Family Day activities during the festival drew crowds in excess of 25,000.