Gael Garcia Bernal has been confirmed as a Qumra Master for the Doha Film Institute’s inaugural Qumra film initiative, which takes place March 6-11.

Twenty-three feature films, 4 feature docus and 4 shorts will participate in an industry programme designed to propel the projects to the next stage of development.

Twenty-two projects were selected from DFI’s funding programmes and nine are by independent filmmakers from Qatar were identified through DFI’s outreach with the local industry. There is an emphasis on supporting first- and second-time filmmakers.

“This has been designed to compliment everything we do year round, whether the educational workshops, the financial grants, the Ajyaal festival,” commented DFI CEO Fatma Al Remaihi. “We want these filmmakers to get to the next level. Every aspect of this event is geared towards giving these first and second-time filmmakers access to the knowledge, inspiration and development opportunities that will allow them to move ahead in their careers.”

“We are not going to put checkpoints anywhere in the region,” added Artistic Advisor Elia Suleiman. “The local will de facto make it universal. This is what cinema is about. It’s about opening doors.”

Garcia Bernal joins previously announced Qumra Masters: Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako (Timbuktu); Iranian actor Leila Hatami ( A Separation); Romanian Palme d’Or winner Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days; Beyond The Hills); and Bosnian Academy Award winner Danis Tanović (No Man’s Land ).

The projects represent 29 countries of production with a total of 11 projects from Qatar-based filmmakers, 15 from the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region and 5 from the rest of the world. Nineteen of the 31 projects are in development and the remainder are in post-production or final stages.

The feature projects selected include Jihane Chouaib’s Go Home,  João Salaviza’s Mountain, Jonas Selberg Augustsen’s The Garbage Helicopter, Emir Baigazin’s The Wounded Angel, Mahmoud Al Massad’s Blessed Benefit and Arab & Tarzan Abunasser’s Dégradé .