Amid criticism from the local community, three young women in Qatar have decided to publicly release a 10-minute film they produced in 2012 called “Bader.”
The documentary is about the life of a young Qatari boy attending an independent elementary school here. Bader, a fourth-grader, is often in trouble at school, for example locking his teacher out of her classroom, and getting suspended for playing with a fire extinguisher.
But he begins to use poetry as a way of expressing himself and finding his place.
Beyond his story, the film includes scenes of out-of-control classrooms, depicting the larger problem that teachers face in maintaining discipline and order at some of Qatar’s independent schools.
In the past few years, Bader has been screened at 10 film festivals and won two awards. But despite a largely positive reception at these events, the filmmakers said they have drawn criticism at home.
Speaking to Doha News, Sara Al-Saadi said that a trailer of Bader (embedded above) drew the attention of some people in the Qatari community earlier this year, prompting the Al Watan newspaper to dismiss the movie as one that “threatens social values.”
The former Northwestern University in Qatar student, who co-produced the film with classmates Latifa Al-Darwish and Maaria Assami, added that they have decided to make the documentary public so that people can make up their own minds about it.
However, taking into account concerns from people that “Qatar doesn’t need any more bad publicity,” the filmmakers have decided to charge $9.99 for the movie, which can be downloaded or streamed online. Al-Saadi said:
“Initially we were going to put it on YouTube, but after the criticisms that we got and how they created some publicity for the film we thought why not sell it, this way since we are all interested in working on future films we can use whatever we make to fund our next projects.”
For his part, Bader, who is now in sixth grade, has apparently flourished since becoming the star of the film. According to Al-Saadi, he has been asked to act in a film and to be a presenter and recite poetry at some Doha Film Institute events.
He will also be attending a screening of the documentary tonight at NU-Q. The movie will be followed by a panel session to discuss the themes raised in the film. More information about Bader can be found on the movie’s official website here.