Award-winning filmmaker Suzi Mirgani recently hosted a screening of her latest work, titled Caravan, to an audience of students, staff, faculty, and guests at Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q). The short film, which premiered at the Doha Film Institute’s Ajyal Youth Film Festival late last year, tells the story of members of a cross-section of Qatari society stuck in a traffic jam.
Mirgani, who is the manager and editor for publications at GU-Q’s Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS), also used the screening as opportunity to share more about the production and themes in the work. The five-minute long short film, which was shot on location at The Pearl Qatar, took a day to film and more than two months to prepare for. It depicts a type of lyrical relay, as the camera zooms in and out of the stationary cars. The voices and thoughts of drivers and passengers stuck in the traffic jam play out in a stream of consciousness style.
In the film, the actors are located on a literal bridge to nowhere, as the end of the road disappears into the sand. Mirgani explained that this can be seen to symbolize a path from prosperity to nothing, as construction is still underway on the man-made island. The mix of built and unbuilt can also be viewed as a metaphor for the rapidly developing country, and its often transient residents. “If you give in to the traffic jam, it can be a space of reflection,” said Mirgani.
Featuring vehicles filled with taxi drivers, tourists, and families (speaking languages ranging from Arabic to Tagalog and Urdu), the film represented the range of nationalities, interests, and languages present in Qatar. “This film was a reflection of what I see on a daily basis,” said Mirgani.
The CIRS researcher, who has edited and written numerous books on topics ranging from food security in the Middle East to media and politics, is also the director of 2014’s Hind’s Dream. That film won the jury award for artistic vision at the 2014 Ajyal Film Festival, and has screened at film festivals around the world.
Article by Lauren Granger, Georgetown University in Qatar Media Writer