Qataris film with video art clas

Five students from Qatar Academy in Education City, Qatar spent four days filming and editing a movie with the Advanced Video Art II students from Dec. 6-9 at the Upper School. The five girls were accompanied to the United States by their two teachers, Suzanne Fletcher and David McIlroy.

Prior to this production, the Video Art students from both countries made short videos to introduce themselves to each other. The students from Qatar were asked to discuss stereotypes while the Advanced Video Art II students were asked to discuss their general interests.

“The movies were all very candid, but nothing compares to meeting someone person to person,” Kyle Kleinbart ’09 said.

While watching the videos from Qatar, the topic of stereotypes catalyzed a discussion among Harvard-Westlake students after one of the Qatari students, Sara Al Darwish, attempted to clear up some of the misconceptions she believed the Harvard-Westlake students would have concerning the Qataris.

“She talked about the role of women in their culture, and explained how the media often incorrectly portrays them as oppressed,” Video Art teacher Cheri Gaulke said.

Al Darwish also commented on a more light-hearted stereotype, stating no one rides camels to school. This comment sparked a discussion among the Harvard-Westlake students, which continued when the students from both countries met on Saturday Dec. 6.

Upon their arrival, the group of 11 students was given certain requirements by the three teachers to include in the video. The requirements included having a red balloon in every shot, and having the phrase “What’d ya want? A Happy Ending,” in the movie.

All the footage for the video was shot Dec. 6-7. The video was directed by Kleinbart, and Adam Maltz ’09 worked the camera. The Qatari students acted in the video and worked as media technicians.

Although cultural differences was a topic of discussion among the students, as the collaboration progressed, the students realized their similarities outnumbered any differences.

“I think teenagers, no matter where they are, are the same,” Simha Haddad ’09 said. “Through the videos they sent us and then by actually meeting them in person, I realized they were just like us.”

The sentiments were echoed on the part of the Qataris as well.

“After spending these past few days together, I realized its all the same – we’re all just teenagers,” Sara Al Fardan said.

The students continue to keep in touch with the online media center, where they post all the videos they create for each other.

The video art teachers from both countries are considering the option of continuing the program beyond this year and the possibility of having Harvard-Westlake students visit Qatar Academy as well.