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THE WORKERS CUP

 
 

LOGLINE

Inside the labor camps of Qatar, African and Asian migrant workers building the facilities of the 2022 World Cup compete in a football tournament of their own: The Workers Cup.

THE STORY

In 2022, Qatar will host the biggest sporting event in the world, the FIFA World Cup. But right now, far away from the bright lights, star athletes and adoring fans, the tournament is being built on the backs of 1.6 million
migrant workers. The Workers Cup is a feature-length documentary giving voice to the men who are laboring to build sport’s grandest stage.

Sixty percent of Qatar’s total population are laborers. From India, Nepal, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and, increasingly from Africa, some of the world’s poorest people are working the lowest level jobs to ensure the World
Cup can be hosted in the world’s richest country. These men work exceedingly long hours for scant salaries, and they live isolated in labor camps which are by law kept outside city limits.

With unprecedented access, our film unfolds largely inside a Qatari labor camp that the migrant workers we meet say feels like a prison. Hidden between a highway and remote stretch of desert, the Umm Salal Camp is
intentionally out of sight and out of mind. So are the 4000 men who live
there.

We focus on a select group in the camp who have been chosen to compete in a football tournament for laborers: The Workers Cup. The tournament is being sponsored by the same committee organizing the 2022 World Cup and 24 construction companies have been invited to field a team of workers. Over the course of the tournament we follow the men as they alternate between two startling extremes: they play heroes on the football pitch, but are the lowest members of society off of it.

The film is a portrait of a handful of players on the team. It explores universal themes of ambition, aspiration and masculinity, as we see our protagonists wrangle hope, meaning, and opportunity out of dismal circumstances. The mundane is fraught with turmoil, whether it is changing jobs, talking with family back home, or going on a date. This results in a terrible toll to the psyche of our protagonists, as they are depleted of the hope that motivated
them to come to Qatar in the first place.


Ultimately, our own complicated relationship with sport is revealed, as we see its power to unite and divide society by turns.

 

THE CHARACTERS

The film was conceived to give voice to migrant workers in Qatar and allow them to tell their own stories. We followed one team playing in the football tournament, and focused on five protagonists from the team:

Kenneth, 21, Ghana
A recruiting agent in Ghana told Kenneth that he’d be coming to Qatar to join a professional football club. After Kenneth arrived in the country, he realized his agent lied. While Kenneth works construction, he still dreams of playing professional football. He hopes to catch the eye of a scout while playing in The Workers Cup so he can escape the camp.

Paul, 21, Kenya
Surrounded by 4000 men, and working a job that keeps him in the camp seven days a week, Paul is struggling with loneliness in this distant land. He dreams of meeting a girl and falling in love.

Umesh, 36, India
Umesh came to Qatar with a simple dream: to earn enough money to build his own home. Until he accomplishes this, he’ll live separated from his wife and two sons, who are named Rooney and Robin after the Manchester United stars.

Padam, 28, Nepal

After 8 years of failing to get around Qatari laws that prohibit him from bringing his wife to Qatar, Padam now has to decide if he should stay and earn, or return to Nepal to be with his wife.

Samuel, 24, Ghana
A talented goalkeeper, Samuel played in the 1st Division in Ghana but he still couldn’t make ends meet. He came to Qatar to work construction, but out of pride he lied and told his father that he was coming to play professional football.

 

 

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Behind the camera

 

We are a team of award-winning film makers from around the world but with a sharp focus on telling the stories of the Middle East and North Africa to the world.

We were all residents of Qatar - part of the ninety per cent who live there who were not citizens of the country. We were engaged in making films and also news and current affairs there and in the region. The story of the workers was all around but so hard to access except in the most superficial way.

This tournament for the workers was a unique opportunity to spend some real time with these men. We picked a team and followed their tales of hope, failed ambition and loneliness across years. Their stories speak for so many other migrant workers around the world, not just in Qatar.

We were helped by SO many along the way so this handful of names by no means reflects the people that made this film possible.

Director / Adam Sobel

Producer / Ramzy Haddad

Producer / Rosie Garthwaite

Editors / Lauren Wellbrock, Anne Jünemann, Adam Sobel

 

 

upcoming screenings

Museum of the moving image - June 8 to 14 - New York City, USA

Thursday, June 7   - 7:30 pm — Premiere event with panel

Friday, June 8     - 7:30 pm

Saturday, June 9   - 1:30 and 4:30 pm

Sunday, June 10    - 1:30 and 6:30 pm

Wednesday, June 13 - 3:00 pm

Thursday, June 14  - 3:00 pm

Friday, June 15    - 7:30 pm

Saturday, June 16  - 1:30 pm

Sunday, June 17    - 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm

Laemmle Monica Film Center - June 8 to 14 - Los Angeles, USA

Friday, June 8     - 12:45pm, 5:15pm

Saturday, June 9   - 12:45pm, 5:15pm

Sunday, June 10    - 12:45pm, 5:15pm

Monday, June 11    - 12:45pm, 5:15pm

Tuesday, June 12   - 12:45pm, 5:15pm

Wednesday, June 13 - 12:45pm, 5:15pm

Alamo Drafthouse Lubbock - June 20 - Lubbock, Texas, USA

Wednesday, June 20 - 07:30pm

Home Cinema (human rights watch) - June 20 - Manchester, uk

6.10pm - followed by a Q&A with producer, Rosie Garthwaite,  Freelance Political and News Correspondent at BBC News, Mark Lobel, and Creative Director and Senior Writer at Joe.co.uk, Nooruddean Choudry.

Grand Illusion Cinema - June 24 to 26 - Seattle, Washington, USa

Tickets on sale soon

Frontline Club - June 26 - London, England

7pm - followed by a discussion moderated by Dorothy Byrne between producer, Rosie Garthwaite, journalist, Philippe Auclair and Mustafa Qadri from Equidem.

Tickets on sale here

Atlantida Film Festival - June 26 - Palma de Mallorca, Spain

5pm - Cine Ciutat - Tickets here

The Bioscope - June 29 to july 5 - Johannesburg, South Africa

Friday, June 29   - 06:00pm

Saturday, June 30 - 06:00pm and 08:00pm

Sunday, July 1    - 05:00pm and 07:00pm

Monday, July 2    - 06:00pm and 08:00pm

Tuesday, July 3   - 06:00pm and 08:00pm

Wednesday, July 4 - 06:00pm and 08:00pm

Thursday, July 5  - 08:00pm

DC Angelika Pop-Up - June 29 to July 5 - Washington Dc, USA

Tickets on sale soon

human rights documentary film Festival - Summer - Hong Kong

Details Soon

 

Previous Screenings

SUNDANCE (World Premiere) - January 2017 - USA

Ayam Beirut Al Cinema'iya (Arab Premiere) - March 2017 - Beirut

CPH:DOX* (European Premiere) - MARCH 2017 - DENMARK

Hawai'i European Cinema (Award: Best Feature Doc) - March 2017 - USA

Arab Film Days - April 2017 - Norway

Vilnius Film Festival - April 2017 - Lithuania

It's All True - April 2017 - Brazil

Hot Docs - April/May 2017 - Canada

Docs Against Gravity - May 2017 - Poland

Taoyuan Film Festival - May 2017 - Taiwan

Doc Edge - May 2017 - New Zealand

Sheffield Doc/Fest - June 2017 - Sheffield, UK

Human Rights Watch FF - June 2017 - NYC, USA

EAST END Film festival - June 2017 - London, UK

Sydney Film Festival (Voted Top 10 Best Docs) - June 2017 - Sydney, Australia

Misaf (Award: Best Feature Doc) - August 2017 - Mississauga, Canada

EBS Intl. Doc Fest – August 2017 – Seoul, Korea

Take One Action – Sept. 2017 – Glasgow/Edinburgh, Scotland

Quebec City Film festival – September – Quebec city, Canada

Zurich Film Festival – Sept./Oct. 2017 – Zurich, Switzerland

Film Festival Diritti Umani Lugano - October 2017 - Lugano, Switzerland

Intl. Documentary Film Festival of Mexico - October 2017 - Querétaro, Mexico

Crested Butte Film Festival - October 2017 - Colorado, USA

Hof International Film Festival - October 2017 - Hof, Germany

Another Way Film Festival - October 2017 - Madrid, Spain

Hot Springs Doc Festival (Award: Best Sports Doc) - October 2017 - Arkansas, USA

Clinton School of Public Service - October 2017 - Arkansas, USA

Mondovisioni - October 2017 to October 2018 - Italy

Film SouthAsia - November 2017 - Kathmandu, Nepal

Aldeburgh Documentary Festival - November 2017 - UK

Carthage Film Festival - November 2017 - Carthage, Tunisia

Austin film society - November 2017 - Austin, USA

Mercury Cinema - November 2017 - Adelaide, Australia

This Human World - November/December 2017 - Vienna, Austria

National Film and Sound Archive - December 2017 - Canberra, Australia

Iran Intl. Doc. Film Festival - December 2017 - Tehran, Iran

Kathmandu Intl. Mountain Film FEst. - December 2017 - Nepal

Palm Springs intl. Film Fest. - January 2018 - Palm Springs, USA

FIPA - January 2018 - Biarritz, France

Globale Mittelhessen - January 2018 - Germany

Cine Onu - January 2018 - Brussels, Belgium

Human Rights Watch Film Festival - February 2018 - Amsterdam, Holland

Human Rights Watch Film Festival - March 2018- London, UK

Thinking Football Festival - March 2018 - Bilbao, Spain

11mm Intl. Football Film Fest - March 2018 - Berlin, Germany

Sheffield Film Days - March 2018 - Amman, Jordan

Cine Onu - March 2018 - Luxembourg, Luxembourg

MIGFilm - April 2018 - Prague, Czech Republic

International sports Film Festival - April 2018 - Columbus, USA

Minneapolis St. Paul Intl. Film Festival - April 2018 - Minneapolis, USA

Off camera Festival - April/May 2018 - Krakow, Poland

Elbe Dock - May 2018 - Czech Republic

Football film Festival - May 2018 - Warsaw, Poland

DC Labour FilmFest - May 2018 - Washington DC, USA

Festival la Lucarne - May 2018 - Paris, France

Global Soccer Conference - May 2018 - Harvard U, MA, USA

BErkshire IFF - June 2018 - Berkshire County, Ma, USA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lot of lovely people have been asking us how they can help out the men in our film and people like them. Please do keep sending us your questions and ideas and we will do our best to follow them up!

Some people have asked to donate money to them directly. We have set up a Paypal account for them that will be divided and shared every time it hits 1000 USD. The link is here paypal.me/workersdonationfund or get in touch with us for bank details if you prefer a direct transfer. (The name on the Paypal when you click through is of our London-based producer Rosie, she runs the bank account, and will be making sure the donations go directly to the men without any intermediaries taking a cut). 

You can also leave messages for the men in the film via the Contact page or in the Paypal message if you are making a donation. 

If you would like to support an organisation that works directly to change the lives of men like those in the film and their families we can suggest: Amnesty International, Migrant Rights, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre or Human Rights Watch and there are so many more. 

 
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Kenneth

Kenneth moved home to Ghana after living in Qatar for 4 years. He continues to dream of playing football and was recently given the opportunity to join the Tema Youth Football Club, a professional club in Greater Accra. He was supposed to start playing for them in January 2018 but contracted Malaria and is currently recovering his strength.

Updated June 2018

 
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Calton

Calton has now been in Qatar for 5 years. He lives in the same labor camp and works for the same construction company as featured in the film. He hopes to open a business someday.

Updated June 2018

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Samuel

Samuel had to move back to Ghana in the summer of 2017 after developing chronic pain while working on Qatar's construction sites. He's currently trying to rest and recover in Accra so he can search for work again, either locally or abroad.

Updated June 2018

 

UMESH

Umesh moved back to Kerala after spending 6 years working construction in the Gulf. He lives with his wife and is helping to train his two young sons in football. Although he still dreams of owning his own home someday, Umesh and his family currently shares a house with his brother.

Updated June 2018

 

PADAM

Padam moved back to Nepal to reunite with his wife after living apart for 8 years. He has a leading role within the Christian community where he lives as a preacher but could not find work. In December 2017 he moved to Dubai to take a job as a security guard.

His wife had a standing ovation at a screening of the film in Kathmandu and is very proud of her husband.

Updated June 2018

 

 

PAUL

Paul returned to Nairobi in 2015 and got engaged. He is currently considering a return to the Gulf.

Updated June 2018