The DOXA Documentary Film Festival: 10 Days 75 Films

Scott Wood

CJSF volunteer, Scott Wood, reports from the DOXA documentary film festival...

Transit Dubai

Director: Ineke Smits, The Netherlands, 2008, 72 minutes

Monday May 25 | 8:30PM | Pacific Cinémathèque

North American Premiere!

The Middle East has always been an alluring, exotic subject and, as the sold out crowd revealed, many Vancouverites were interested in sampling a little Dubai. The city itself has been in an economic boom as the oil fueled economy creates an instant city from sand dunes. I think many people know or have known about someone who has move to the UAE temporarily or for good in search of an instant high paying job. 

The backbone of this doc's story is simple: an art class reviews their photography assigment in a discussion group with the teacher. This professor prods his class to examine the context of their work. The assigment: to capture life in the city of Dubai.

The students are a mixed bag of Dubai natives (keep in mind a Dubai native rich enough to go to school is from a wealthy family) and foreigners who now make Dubai their home. Each of the art students must photograph and then talk about the people and the context of the photos. The film butchers a wealthy Nordic woman who refuses to recognize how she benfits from the rigid class system that makes her opulent lifestyle possible. The film is considerably more kind to the upper middles class "empowered" (but burka wearing) Islamic coed who has similar middle class aspirations.

At points, the doc amkers interview the people who have been photograhed so we see all levels of society from the wealthy European settlers (who make up most of the population of the city) to the disenfranchised economic slaves, some natives, some foreigners who slave away at menial jobs. 

At times this documentary is weighed down by the listless students. Everyone has been to this type of class--the one where the poor prof is trying to yank an intelligent conversation from his tired and apathetic students.  Yet, in the final moments of the film, the art teacher makes his point about ther nature of the city and he offers his students in teresting choice. 

And all this will make anyone stop and think about moving to Dubai to pursue dream of instant oil-fueled wealth.  

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  • Posted on: 11 March 2016
  • By: Administrator