Egyptian director and producer Ali El Arabi, who made a splash at virtual Sundance with doc “Captains of Zaatari,” about the soccer dreams of young Syrian refugees, is shooting another soccer-related project, this one centered on fan fever in the leadup to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
“Ashish’s Journey” (working title), El Arabi’s new high-profile doc, will chronicle the true tale of a young Indian (pictured in this exclusive first look image) who is a fervent soccer fan and — realizing that he can’t afford travel and ticket costs to attend 2022 World Cup, where he wants to meet a football icon of his — decides to apply for a job as a stadium worker in Qatar.
“We’ve been living with Ashish for a year now and will continue shooting until after the World Cup in 2022,” the director said. “What we hope to accomplish and are exploring is Ashish’s transformation from being an extreme fan — one who idolizes and is confined by the screen — to a three-dimensional man who becomes a migrant worker and faces the specific challenges of that,” El Arabi added.
“This forces him to confront a number of things about himself and his responsibilities as a man that are completely separate from the success of others (such as soccer players and teams),” he went on to note.
“Ashish’s Journey,” which is being produced by the director’s Cairo-based Ambient Light Film shingle, closely follows its protagonist and will provide a behind-the-scenes view of the soccer World Cup, specifically from his point-of-view as a migrant worker in a foreign country.
“Captains of Zaatari” has sold to Utopia in the U.S. where the distributor is planning an awards qualifying day-and-date release in cinemas on Nov. 19 in New York and Los Angeles, and a roll-out on AppleTV and Altavod. Meanwhile, the film has also sold into Sherry Media (Canada), Trigon (Switzerland) and Movistar (Spain).
Manori Ravindran contributed to this report.