On April 11, 2018, the St. Bernard’s community came together for a screening of the new documentary, The Workers Cup, which was produced by St. B’s parent, Dennis P. The film premiered on opening night of the Sundance film festival, and will have its theatrical premiere on Friday, June 8, in New York City at the Museum of the Moving Image and in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Theater.
The film follows a team of international workers playing in the Worker’s Cup soccer tournament in Qatar, while at the same time living in a migrant workers’ camp and building the soccer stadiums for the world’s largest sporting event, the FIFA World Cup, which Qatar will host in 2022. The players are compelling characters who we realize as not that different from ourselves in terms of their life goals and aspirations. The stark reality of their lives under Qatar’s kafala law comes quickly into view, as we realize that like millions of other migrant workers in the Gulf, many of these men have ended up in Qatar under dubious circumstances. Upon entering the country, they have had to turn over their passports to their employer and can do nothing without the permission of their boss. As these teams struggle to advance in the Workers Cup tournament, we see the competitors as individuals struggling to find happiness as migrants who are not permitted to change jobs or even go on a date without the permission of their bosses.
What results is a window into a totally closed world, one which few outsiders have ever accessed. The team behind the film was previously responsible for the reporting on this system of “modern slavery” by the likes of CNN, HBO, VICE, and The Guardian, but has succeeded in telling the more nuanced story that lies behind those more sensational headlines and sound bites.
The Community Gathering committee was pleased to organize this private screening at St. Bernard’s. Parents, teachers, and students were in attendance, and they participated in a lively question and answer session with the producer. The St. B’s community left thinking about the migrant workers who were the subjects of the film, who are part of a majority of the population in the wealthiest country in the world (on a per capita basis).