As part of its ambitious commitment to education, the government of Arab emirate Qatar hired a team of recent Oxford grads to coach the country's first national high school debate team. Led by the springy, quintessentially witty Brit Alex, the five multicultural 15- to 17-year-olds are setting their sights high: their very first competitive debate will take place at the World Schools Debating Championship in Washington, DC. Team Qatar follows the group on a whirlwind crash course in debate that takes them from Doha to London and New York. Can this effervescent group of teens handle the pressure and succeed on the world stage?
Equal parts suspenseful competition movie and cultural examination, Team Qatar invites us into the lives of a group of young Middle Easterners with diverse backgrounds (they have roots in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria) and different ideas. Their candid conversations about religion, politics, and sexuality, captured by director Liz Mermin's (The Beauty Academy of Kabul, TFF '04) fly-on-the-wall camera, reveal varying degrees of worldliness, but they always challenge stereotypes.
Length: 90 minutes
Director: Liz Mermin
Producers: Lawrence Elman, Liz Mermin
Director of Photography: Lynda Hall
Editor: Jake Roberts
Original Music by: Nick Fyffe
Production Manager: Emily Murfin
Liz Mermin (b. Ithaca, New York) specializes in offbeat social-issue documentary features about international subjects. Her previous films include Shot In Bombay (2007), Office Tigers (2006), and The Beauty Academy of Kabul (2004). These films were all commissioned by BBC/Storyville and have played in festivals and theaters internationally. Mermin studied literature at Harvard and cultural anthropology at NYU, where she also learned filmmaking. She was a Fulbright scholar in Dakar, Senegal and a Renew Media (Rockefeller) Fellow in 2006. She has also directed and edited docs and PSAs for TV. A former New Yorker, she now lives in London and is in post-production on a documentary feature about horses.