HotDocs Film Festival – Day 5: The Workers Cup

The Workers Cup (UK, 2017): Much has been said about the brutal conditions foreign workers must endure while building stadiums for the 2022 Qatar World Cup (high temperatures, excessive hours, disproportionately low wages). Their plight has seldom been documented: Press access to worksites is severely restricted.

Director Adam Sobel takes advantage of a PR move to gain access to the workforce. The embattled contractors have organized a soccer championship to show concern for the wellbeing of their employees: The Workers Cup. The overworked personnel fails to see the tournament as a publicity stunt and happily become involved.

The harsh realities of being a foreign worker in Qatar seep through the supposedly wholesome competition. Unsavory situations like being unable to leave camp at will, or a man getting stabbed by his roommate so he could be sent back home pepper the daily lives of the migrant workforce.

Much to the film’s credit, The Workers Cup treats its subjects as individuals with agency and not as victims, which makes their plight much more relatable. Their story has only started to unfold. 3.5/5 prairie dogs.


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Author: Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Journalist, film critic, documentary filmmaker, and sometimes nice guy. Member of the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. Like horror flicks, long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. Allergic to cats.