This release comes to us from UTOPIA.


This documentary tells the story of two best friends trapped in the Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan. They have an undying dream of becoming professional soccer players. When a world renowned sports academy visits the camp, they now have a chance to make this dream come true.

From director Ali Eli Arabi, the feature documentary Captains of Za’atari follows Mahmoud and Fawz as they pursue their dream. Though they both have no sense of what the future holds for them, they focus their energy together on their first love: soccer. Despite the dire circumstances in the camp, they practice day in and day out, believing firmly that playing professionally is their ticket to freedom.

When Aspire Academy, one of the world’s leading sports academies, arrives to pick players for an international tournament in Doha, they quickly identify Mahmoud as a talent and fly him there, while Fawzi is left behind due to a technicality. Mahmoud is boarding a plane for the first time and is taking in the experience, while Fawzi is facing the difficult reality in Zaatari.

Unexpectedly, the Aspire coaches decide to fly Fawzi in to join his team. The two best friends train and compete in the most important soccer matches of their lives, while their families in Zaatari watch via satellite. After the final match, they speak at a press conference. On behalf of the displaced people of Syria, they make clear that people need an opportunity, not pity. Three years later they grew to young men. They are still stuck in Zaatari, still troubled by fears of an insecure future.

This is the debut feature frilm from Egyptian director/ producer Ali El Arabi who started making short documentaries at Dream TV (Egypt). He went on to produce documentaries for ZDF, Stern TV Germany, and National Geographic in the MENA region. In 2015, El Arabi set up Ambient Light, a Cairo-based production company where he focuses on various topics relevant to the MENA region such as refugee displacement and women’s and children’s rights. The company now is focused on character- driven stories with international appeal regardless of their genres.

For more information on Captains of Za’atari, visit the film’s website. And follow us here for more indie film movie release news.

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