The four-day festival will feature films and documentaries on Middle East-related issues and will gather directors from across the world.

"[The] Aljazeera Television Production Festival is a new step on the road to opening up to Arab and world media on both institutional and personal levels," Chairman of Aljazeera Shaikh Hamad bin Thamir Al Thani said in a written statement.

"The festival is also the space Aljazeera provides those innovators to meet and engage in dialogue towards building an Arab media school which respects professionalism and celebrates innovation and creativity."

Dream come true

Director of the opening film, Liana Salih, told Aljazeera.net that making her film, A Ball and a Colouring Box, was a dream for her.

Liana Salih said growing up in
Palestine was a challenge

A film that mixes the realities of living in an occupied country with the colourful fantasies of innocent children, Salih's production offers insight into the challenges Palestinian children face.

"I think every Palestinian child ... would dream of making a film but may be the hardship makes it difficult for our dreams to come true," Liana said.

"In Palestine you have a challenge ... I think it is a positive thing."

Other films in the schedule include a production on the Asian tsunami, and a film on media coverage of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, titled Weapons of Mass Deception.

The event will also feature forums on Qatari cinema and Palestinian film making.

Changing perceptions?

Mustafa Abu Ali of the Palestinian Cinema Group said the event filled an important gap in the Arab world.

"There are not so many documentary film festivals in the Arab world, so this fills an important gap," Abu Ali told Aljazeera.net.

He said he hoped Aljazeera's Arabic and English language services would have a positive effect on international perceptions of his homeland and the Middle East in general.

"The Western audience are not exposed to the facts of this area. So, if Aljazeera, and it is known they have an objective coverage, can reach people abroad, I think it can make a big difference."