Witness Bahrain

"Fearless, insightful, and has a big heart for those who are in this long but beautiful struggle." Charles Mudede, "The Stranger"

Witness Bahrain is an award winning documentary film that premiered at the Seattle Transmedia and Independent Film Festival. It depicts moments of the often forgotten struggle for freedom, human rights and freedom in Bahrain. It is an in depth look inside the small Gulf Kingdom two years after the start of the Bahraini pro-democracy uprising.

The film follows J, a female investment banker turned activist as she travels to villages and towns all over Bahrain, uncovering the stories of Bahrainis who have been most deeply impacted by the crisis, including doctors who were arrested and tortured under trumped up charges, Sunni opposition activists (poking a hole in the portrayal of Bahrain’s political crisis as being Shi’a versus Sunni), nurses treating injured protestors at underground clinics risking arrest and possibly torture, the family of a fourteen year old boy killed by a teargas canister shot to the back of his head, the recently released eleven year old boy who was arrested while playing soccer with his friends and was imprisoned for a month, and the final interview with human rights defender Nabeel Rajab before being taken to prison for a critical Tweet that he sent (as well as surreptitiously filmed footage of the police arresting Rajab). Scores of “ordinary” Bahrainis are captured as well: women at illegal protests explaining why they are demonstrating, people praying on the remains of their mosques which were demolished by the regime, and youth on the streets clashing daily with riot police explaining why they began to use Molotov cocktails.

Threaded throughout the film are snatches of conversation with Jihan during car rides from village to village, the camera often having to be snapped off with very little warning as riot police roamed the streets where J drove, keeping the sense of danger ever present. In those snatches, J spoke about her transformation from a pro government investment banker to a human rights activist, and her responses to the escalating crisis, as her Twitter feed buzzed continuously with current updates about attacks, raids and injuries on the streets of Bahrain.

The government of Bahrain is denying entry to all but a few journalists and human rights defenders, so filmmaker Jen Marlowe had to enter the country under false pretenses and film clandestinely, before being deported by the Bahraini regime. The result is a one hour documentary film cut from guerilla style footage shot with a small, hand held camera, capturing the most intimate, in depth portrayal of the Bahraini government’s violent repression of Bahrain’s Arab Spring to date.

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For more information about the film click here.
Director Jen Marlowe and co-producer Nada Alwadi discuss the film and struggle for freedom in Bahrain on Mind Over Matter.

Articles about Bahrain:

Women Join Bahrain's Uprising
The Progressive, November, 2012

Terror and Teargas on the Streets of Bahrain
Tomdispatch.com, September 18, 2012

Bahrain Imprisons Human Rights Leader
The Progressive, August 17, 2012

Stitching Up Our Injured Children
Witness Bahrain, July 13, 2012

The Last Tweets Before Prison: Interview with Nabeel Rajab
Witness Bahrain, July 10th, 2012

Ali's Unused Camera
Witness Bahrain, July 7, 2012

Nurses stitching a boy's wound from a tear gas canister in an underground clinic in Bahrain.
Father mourns at the grave of his 14 year-old son, killed in Bahrain by a tear gas canister shot at close range to the boy's head.