x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Public urged to help fund release of film about Dubai labour camp singing champs

The makers of a documentary about a singing contest for labourers are appealing to residents for help to release their film across the UAE and Arabian Gulf.

Dubai residents watch the screening of the film Camp Ka Champ at the Burj Park last week. Satish Kumar / The National
Dubai residents watch the screening of the film Camp Ka Champ at the Burj Park last week. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // The makers of a documentary about a singing contest for labourers are appealing to residents for help to release their film across the UAE and Arabian Gulf.

The director, Mahmoud Kaabour, and producers of Champ of the Camp, which is based on the annual singing contest that goes by the name of Camp ka Champ, have launched an online crowd-funding campaign to raise US$75,000 (Dh275,500) in 45 days.

The appeal is now in its seventh day with only US$3,620 raised as of Sunday.

“There are lot of costs involved in the theatrical distribution of a film,” said Eva Sayre, a producer at Veritas Films, the UAE company that made Champ of the Camp.

“There are costs related to the physical material and clearances and the most significant costs are for marketing and advertising.

“In the UAE, it is required if you want the movie to stay in the cinemas for more than a few days. Anything more adventurous or independent suffers in the UAE.”

The 75-minute film made its debut at last month’s Dubai International Film Festival and moved many in the audience of more than 1,000 people to tears when it was screened at Burj Park.

It funnily and poignantly captures the workers going about their daily chores while practising for the contest enthusiastically.

The filmmakers said they had already spent more than $350,000 shooting and producing the movie. They received grants worth $65,000 but the rest was self-funded.

“The UAE is one of the most expensive places to film. We spent our last dime on the production of it,” Ms Sayre said. “We can’t continue to fund it. We hope the community at large can help us.

“People were so enthusiastic at the premiere. We want the film to be seen widely.”

The appeal has a considerable way to go before it reaches its target. The US$3,620 raised so far is from only 16 supporters. But Ms Sayre is confident people will respond positively.

“Crowd funding is a funny thing. It comes in waves. The campaign may be slow to start but then it snowballs,” she said. “It is doing quite well for the third day. I believe the activity on our page is the highest but it is yet to translate into money.”

The producer said that if they could not meet their goal, the company would scale its funding accordingly.

“There is a threshold but we are confident we can raise a significant amount of money,” Ms Sayre said.

“Hitting the target means it will be distributed widely in the UAE – and not just Dubai – for different audiences and some other countries in the GCC.

“We hope it spreads outwards and people send it to their friends. We hope there is a commitment in the region to labourers and independent films.”

Veritas Films is using social media and direct emails to reach out to prospective donors.

Workers featured in Champ of the Camp hope the movie can be viewed in cinemas across the country.

“A lot of effort has been put by the filmmakers,” said Rajesh Kumar, a helper at a car company.

“I really hope it will make it to the theatres. I will also try to donate whatever is possible from my end.”

Mr Kumar attended the premiere at Burj Park last month and features prominently in the film.

Zakir Hussain Sheikh, a helper at a building company, said: “It is good if it is released in theatres and more people can see it. I will watch the film again when it is out.”

He is seen for about 15 minutes exercising his vocal cords.

People can donate by visiting www.aflamnah.com/en/champ-of-the-camp/.

pkannan@thenational.ae