Paris-based sales company Wide House has picked up international rights to Mahmoud Kaabour’s Champ Of The Camp, a musical documentary capturing life in the UAE’s labour camps, which premieres at DIFF tomorrow (Dec 7).
The film explores life in the camps, housing thousands of South Asian labourers on the outskirts of the city, through the Bollywood singing and trivia competitions they run for entertainment. These X-Factor style contests have been running for seven years in the camps, drawing some 10,000 entrants this year.
The world premiere of the film will be held in the shadow of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa skyscraper, which one of the protagonists of the film helped to build, in a free open-air screening tomorrow evening.
“It’s great the film is getting this sort of recognition in MENA before heading to other international festivals and markets in 2014,” said Wide House chief Anais Clanet.
She said Wide House had been approached by Kaabour’s Dubai-based production company Veritas Films on the basis of other films the French company had handled from the region. Wide House and sister company Wide Management previously sold Jafar Panahi’s This Is Not A Film and Atia and Mohamed Al-Darafji’s In My Mother’s Arms.
“It’s the first time a filmmaker has entered the camps. Mahmoud focuses on the workers’ reality, through their eyes, with no influence from the media or international community,” said Clanet. “This is a very joyful documentary even if the second layer of the film, their work conditions, is always there.”
Kaabour, a Lebanese-born, Dubai-based filmmaker, is returning to DIFF following the screening of his short documentary Being Osama in 2005. The film followed six men who share Osama Bin Laden’s name for 18 months in Montreal in the aftermath of 9/11. His credits also include Grandma, A Thousand Times (2010), which won best film in the Celebrate Age competition at Mumbai Film Festival.
Meanwhile, Wide Management is handling sales on Palestinian filmmakers Arab and Tarzan Nasser’s Gaza-set Condom Lead, capturing life during the 22-day Israeli offensive on Gaza in 2009.