KATARA STUDIOS | News
January 28, 2021 | 8:04 AM

‘Captains of Zaatari’ Director Ali El Arabi on Soccer as Ticket to a Future For Syrian Refugee Teens

It took Egyptian director and producer Ali El Arabi six years to shoot “Captains of Zaatari,” which world premieres in the Sundance world doc competition on Jan. 31. He shot it mostly on the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. which hosts some 80,000 Syrians forced to flee the civil war in Syria, more than half of which are children. At the camp, the director focused on the lives of two talented teens, Mahmoud and Fawzi, who are best friends and dream of becoming professional soccer players. They get a shot at it thanks to a Doha-based sports academy called Aspire. El Arabi spoke from Cairo to Variety about how he gained deep access to the team captains’ lives and, by extension, to a potent depiction of the redemptive power of soccer, friendship and “the right that refugees have to connect with the world.” The excerpted conversation follows. What is most striking about the doc is the intimacy. It’s like the camera’s not there. How did you accomplish that? The first year served as my introduction. I tried to build trust. Luckily I am a soccer player and I played with them. So they felt close to me. To establish an even closer rapport, I would give them the camera and ask them to shoot me while I was playing, so they got accustomed to the camera and to my presence. Also, I come from a small village, which is not that dissimilar from a refugee camp, though of course it’s different. But just like the Zataari refugee camp, this village is void of dreams and aspirations. So that’s why we bonded. Over the course of these six years I would sometimes leave several cameras rolling just to pick up chit-chat and dialogue between the two protagonists. You also made narrative choices that make it feel almost like a feature film. I did not want this documentary to look like traditional documentaries that we have in our part of the world, where there is this conventional image of refugees, especially on TV stations. That is not what I wanted to portray. I wanted the audience to live with the captains and share everything about them: their journey, growth, pains and joys. I wanted to show that these refugees have a life. And that they have a right to connect with the world and to feel that that are a part of it. The other protagonist of the doc is soccer, their ticket to a better life. Fawzi told me that the only place where he feels that he is not a refugee is on the soccer pitch. I feel that if refugees aren’t allowed to express their abilities they can be snatched up by terrorist groups, who can convince them that they do play a part in the world and exploit them in a different way. Sport is one of the most important ways of establishing peace. And since soccer draws large crowds, lots of people love it, it can resonate widely and people can identify with the cause. In this film we are comparing two contradictory worlds. The world of the poor, represented by the refugees. And the world of the rich, which is represented by professional soccer players who are stars. To put it simply: refugees can be sponsored and supported by soccer in a huge way. Personally I’ve started sensing that from conversations with some of the most famous players around the world. Through an empathy campaign I really believe that they can help refugees’ lives get better. The cause of these two dreamy young men can blaze a trail and big sports entities like FIFA [the international governing body of soccer] could adopt their cause. View the article

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March 21, 2019 | 7:58 PM

Gulf Times

A R Rahman set to rock Doha on Friday *Qatar Airways is Presenting Partner of concert to be held at Khalifa International StadiumIndia’s musical ambassador A R Rahman will perform live for the first time ever in Doha, along with his troupe of more than 80 performers, on Friday at the state-of-the-art Khalifa International Stadium.Qatar Airways is the Presenting Partner of ‘AR Rahman Live in Qatar’, in association with Katara Studios, the airline announced on Thursday.The concert is in collaboration with the Supreme Committee of Delivery & Legacy and Qatar National Tourism Council.The two-time Oscar and Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter, music director and producer will perform on a 90m-long stage, which is a world-first, for the largest musical event Doha has ever seen.The much-anticipated concert will also feature a special performance by renowned Qatari composer Dana Alfardan and Doha’s own emerging artist Aisha, who will perform a tribute song honouring the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, written by Dana Alfardan. This song is dedicated to the Qatar-India Year of Culture 2019, a year-long collaboration that sees both nations jointly celebrate their unique cultural legacies.Qatar Airways senior vice president - Marketing and Corporate Communications, Salam al-Shawa, said: “We are delighted to be the co-presenter for ‘AR Rahman Live in Qatar’ in partnership with Katara Studios, and we are honoured to be flying several high-profile dignitaries in style to Doha for the largest musical celebration Qatar has ever seen. We look forward to hosting global icon A R Rahman and other celebrities at this world-class musical extravaganza that will bring more than 30,000 fans to the first FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium to be built in Doha.”“Qatar Airways looks forward to being the bridge between Qatar and India, as we usher in an unforgettable evening celebrating the universal language of music.”Rahman is globally known for revolutionising the Indian film music industry with his one-of-a-kind compositions harmoniously blending East and West. He composed the music for the 2009 Hollywood blockbuster Slumdog Millionaire that earned him numerous international accolades and awards. In addition to his Grammy and Oscar awards, Rahman has also won a Bafta and Golden Globe Award, six National Film Awards and many Filmfare Awards.The Qatar-India Year of Culture 2019 invites audiences in both Qatar and India to explore their shared cultural heritage through an exciting array of programmes, including a variety of Qatari-Indian exhibitions, musical performances, fashion, film and artistic events. The Year of Culture programme, developed under the patronage of HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, chairperson of Qatar Museums, has continued to grow under her leadership with each passing year.Katara Studios, a state-of-the-art production facility in Doha, was established to advance Doha’s film and music industry. Its collaboration with Rahman marks the start of many joint efforts planned to bring some of the world’s biggest names in the industry to Qatar.Qatar Airways introduced its revolutionary Qsuite Business Class experience on the Mumbai and Bengaluru routes in July 2018, both of which are served by a Boeing B777 aircraft, in India. In February 2018, the airline introduced its state-of-the-art Airbus A350-900 on its Delhi route. Qatar Airways was the global launch customer for this aircraft, which features a two-class configuration of 283 seats in total, offering 36 in Business Class and 247 in Economy Class.Qatar Airways currently operates 102 weekly flights between Doha and 13 destinations in India, including Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Mumbai, Nagpur and Thiruvananthapuram.A multiple-award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was named ‘World’s Best Business Class’ by the 2018 World Airline Awards, managed by international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax. It was also named ‘Best Business Class Seat’, ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, and ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge’.The airline operates a modern fleet of more than 240 aircraft via its hub, Hamad International Airport , to more than 160 destinations worldwide.Qatar Airways has launched an array of new destinations recently, including Gothenburg, Sweden; Mombasa, Kenya and Da Nang, Vietnam. The airline will add a number of new destinations to its extensive route network this year, including Lisbon, Portugal; Malta; Rabat, Morocco; Davao, Philippines; Langkawi, Malaysia; Izmir, Turkey; and Mogadishu, Somalia. View the article  

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March 21, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Qatar Tribune

AR Rahman set to regale Doha audience tomorrow DOHAGLOBALLY acclaimed Indian musician AR Rahman, who is currently in Doha to perform on Friday at the iconic Khalifa International Stadium, the first FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium, said he would include Arabic songs in his future concerts.While interacting with the media in Doha on Wednesday, the Oscar winning musician and artiste said he was excited to be in Qatar and was looking forward to performing in front of Qatar’s music lovers.The concert being held as part of Qatar-India Year of Culture 2019 and dubbed to be one of the biggest musical events ever in Qatar is expected to have an audience of 35,000.The musical extravaganza will see the Khalifa International Stadium pitch turning into a giant 90-metre-long stage with 80 artistes performing live simultaneously. Large LED screens will be put up around the stage to ensure the entire audience gets a memorable up-close view of the maestro.Rahman will be joined for the concert by popular Indian playback singer and king of melody Udit Narayan Jha, award-winning singer Shweta Mohan, Carnatic vocalist, playback singer and musician Haricharan Seshadri, A R Rahman’s sisters and popular singers from the South Indian film industry Reihana and Isshrathquadhre, playback singer from the Malayalam film industry Alphons Joseph, Bollywood playback singer Javed Ali, singer and actor Benny Dayal, Indian film score composer Ranjit Barot, Rahman’s troupe singer Dilshad Shabbir Ahmed Shaikh and Indian-born Canadian singer Jonita Gandhi.The event organised by Katara Studios will be the pinnacle event of Qatar-India Year of Culture 2019, which is intended to promote mutual understanding, recognition and appreciation between the two countries.The musical fest in Doha is being held in association with Qatar Airways and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy.Katara Studios CEO Hussein Fakhri, said, “AR Rahman’s music has transcended all countries and languages and we are very excited to bring him to Qatar for a historic performance. We are sure that it will be one of the most memorable experiences for the audience.”Welcoming AR Rahman, Group CEO of Doha Bank Dr R Seetharaman said Rahman has globalised Indian music. Regional Director of Lulu Hypermarket Mohammed Althaf said music lovers in Doha are very excited about the concert.Rahman shot to international fame with his composition for the 2009 Hollywood production‘Slumdog Millionaire’. View the article 

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March 20, 2019 | 9:26 AM

The Peninsula

A R Rahman arrives in Qatar for the biggest music show everDoha: Oscar-winner A R Rahman will be performing live for the first time in Qatar on Friday, March 22, at the Khalifa International Stadium, the first FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium to be completed.In what is billed as the biggest music show ever in Qatar, Indian music legend is accompanied by a long-list of popular artists like playback singer and King of Melody Udit Narayan Jha, award-winning singer Shweta Mohan, Carnatic vocalist, playback singer and musician Haricharan Seshadri, A R Rahman’s sisters and popular singers from the South Indian film industry Reihana and Isshrathquadhre, playback singer from the Malayalam film industry Alphons Joseph, Bollywood playback singer Javed Ali, singer-actor Benny Dayal, Indian film score composer Ranjit Barot, Rahman’s troupe singer Dilshad Shabbir Ahmed Shaikh and Indian-born Canadian singer Jonita Gandhi.Rahman said that he was very excited to be in Qatar and was looking forward to performing in front of Qatar’s music lovers.“I have heard a lot of good things about the great support for music and art in Qatar. You have a great studio and an orchestra. And this is not the end as we will be doing another concert sometime in October,” Rahman answered to a query about his impression about Qatar at a press conference held at Mondrian Doha yesterday.The concert, organised by Katara Studios, is held as part of the Qatar-India Year of Culture 2019. An estimated 35,000 people are expected to attend the concert, making it the biggest event of its kind in Qatar.“We received confirmation two days back that this is the biggest music show ever held in Qatar,” Katara Studios CEO Hussein Fakhri said at the press meet.“It is my great pleasure that Katara Studios is hosting legendary Indian composer and musician A R Rahman. His music has transcended all countries and languages and we are very excited to be bringing him to Qatar for a historic performance,” Fakhri added.The press conference was also attended by Doha Bank CEO Dr R Seetharaman and Mohammed Althaf, Regional Director, Lulu Hypermarket.A two-time winner and five-time nominee of the Academy Awards (Oscar), Rahman is popularly known as the man who has redefined contemporary Indian music. He shot to international fame with his composition for the 2009 Hollywood production Slumdog Millionaire. In addition to the two Oscars, Rahman also boasts of two Grammy awards, a Bafta, a Golden Globe, as well as a slew of awards in India, including six National Film Awards, 15 Filmfare Awards and 17 Filmfare Awards South.The Grammy-winner is known for his elaborate stage arrangement and his shows held around the world are a treat for music lovers. The show in Qatar will be no less extravagant and the Khalifa International Stadium pitch will be converted into a giant 90-metre-long stage with 80 artists performing live. Large LED screens around the stage will ensure that the entire audience will get a memorable up-close and personal experience with the singer.The musical fest in Doha is in association with Qatar Airways and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy as part of the Qatar-India 2019 Year of Culture, that is intended to promote mutual understanding, recognition and appreciation between the two countries. View The article  

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