Sundance Review: Captains of Zaatari

Millions upon millions of children around the globe grow up dreaming of becoming a professional footballer. The same dream has been passed down from generation to generation. Today, wherever you are in the world, thanks to the wonders of modern technology you can watch your heroes play on TV or online. Whilst the chances of ‘making it’ are incredibly slim, those odds can lengthen rapidly depending on your location and background.  

Located in Jordan, Za’atari is the world’s largest camp for Syrian refugees. There are roughly 80,000 inhabitants and at one point it had grown so big that it was basically the fourth biggest city in the kingdom. More than half of the residents are children, but with food shortages, sporadic education and limited work opportunities, those housed within have few or no future prospects. Captains of Zaatari, the new documentary from Ali El Arabi, follows two young men trying to play their way out of poverty.

Captains of Zaatari is an enlightening and informative film which tackles the multiple problems faced by residents of refugee camps through the eyes of Mahmoud and Fawzi. By following their journey, we’re afforded a glimpse into wider issues. What makes it so compelling is El Arabi’s choice to submerge his audience into the drama. The camera gets up close and personal, drawing you into their lives. Captains of Zaatari is a timely documentary which is a call to action to address the myriad struggles faced by Syrian refuges.

Captains of Zaatari screens at Sundance Film Festival.

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