The documentary is available today on the Arte.tv platform Qatar, a dynasty that wants to conquer the world Miyuki Droz and Sylvain Lepetita brilliantly tell the story of the Al Thani family. Far from succumbing to the sirens of moralizing or spectacle, the documentary offers a subtle and profound examination of modern Qatari society, caught between yesterday’s conservatism and new aspirations for freedom. Success!
The crazy story of a small emirate that grew up
” I am chained to the impossible said Jean Cocteau. Did he know that this quote would become the policy of a Middle Eastern emirate? We bet on the negative. But this is a saying that came true. No offense to the author Infernal machine. Qatar, a dynasty that wants to conquer the world based on the title, indicates the tone of the documentary to follow. Miyuki Droz and Sylvain Lepetit describe an ascent that no one saw (and could not have predicted twenty years ago). Two journalists turn the origin story upside down. Instead of offering us history lessons, they opt for a narrative that works like an inverted pyramid that meanders between different temporal points.
The film begins with a falconry scene. To a Westerner, this event may seem anecdotal. This is obviously nothing. This tradition, inherited from the Bedouin, is a sacred pillar of culture, the mention of which allows the filmmakers to recall Qatari society in a different way. How to tell about the political history of the country in an hour and a half, without falling into repetition – if not a cliché? Miyuki Droz and Sylvain Lepetit meet this challenge brilliantly. The two journalists strip the documentary of any heavy chronology, opting for a synchronous narrative structure. This will regularly lead to desirable diachronic reminders that provide the depth needed to understand all the geopolitical, cultural, and economic issues under consideration.
Geopolitics of documentary cinema
The documentary tells about the recent history of Qatar. Journalists go behind the scenes of the country’s entry into the international arena. Next, in turn, the English protectorate of the 1930s and the economic explosion of the late 1990s are mentioned. Miyuki Droz and Sylvain Lepetit return to family genealogy in detail. This is essential if one wants to grasp the contours of government policy. Archive footage alternates with current footage from Doha. The architectural gigantism that characterizes it is matched by enormous wealth. Unlike France, money is not taboo in Qatar. Money appears from everywhere, new cities appear, where completely new districts are adjacent to shiny luxurious subway lines. Uncovering the topography of a place often makes it possible to identify the social geography that inhabits it. The directors use nuance and critical perspective wisely. The choice of speakers also largely depends on the success of the documentary. Interviewing both royals and Middle East experts, the documentary offers a rich and multi-faceted discourse.
If Qatari society is dominated by the pyramidal principle of functioning, it nevertheless welcomes changes in it. Miyuki Droz and Sylvain Lepetit try to avoid any excessive demonization. No moralistic judgment interferes with the narrative. It is not about looking down on Qatar or remaining blind to the problems its domestic politics can create. This is evidenced by the way the documentary talks about the attitude towards foreign workers, which today, more than ever, has become evident thanks to the World Cup. The goal, on the contrary, is for journalists to offer a different grid of reading.
Qatar, a dynasty that wants to conquer the world reminds us that the complexity of the world can also be viewed in a simple way. Remembering this truth is perhaps less futile than one might think at a time when distrust of the media continues to gain momentum. ” Passion remains suspended in the world, ready to cross those who are willing to allow it to cross themselves.. said Marguerite Duras. Let the novelist forgive us for the gloss that follows. ” Journalism (documentary investigation) does not stand in limbo in the world, but, on the contrary, is always ready to cross people – whether they want to allow themselves to be crossed or not. Miyuki Droz and Sylvain Lepetit could answer in turn.
Watch the trailer on the Arte website
Technical passport – Qatar, a dynasty that wants to conquer the world
Directors: Miyuki Droz and Sylvain Lepetit
On Arte.tv from October 20 to January 21, 2023.
The next broadcast is on Tuesday, November 29, at 8:55 p.m.