A coming-of-age tale, an underdog story and an urgent humanitarian statement rolled into one, Captains of Zaatari claims a special place among all the recent documentaries about the Syrian crisis, with a melancholic final shot to soothe the soul. Free of talking-head interviews, archival footage and the kind of statistics that can make some docs feel like homework, El Arabi’s debut is ultimately rousing through its fluid, casual specificity, tracing a beautiful friendship that pledges to defy the odds.
Tomris Laffly, Variety
Captains of Zaatari succeeds as a moving drama and a remarkably warm documentary on the power of the human spirit. At one point, our “protagonists” let a group of reporters know that as refugees, they don’t need pity. Instead, they need an opportunity. It’s a rather poignant moment that clarifies what it is to achieve. That would be opportunity and desire.
Norman Gidney, Film Threat