Between Hope and Pain, a documentary about Kuwait’s Olympic players and Rio 2016


Kuwaiti fencer Balsam Al-Ayyoub filmed a documentary that tells the story of the Kuwaiti players who have qualified for the Olympics but who have not been allowed to participate as Kuwaitis, since Kuwait has been banned from this year’s Olympics. They would participate under the IOC flag as independent players.

Kuwaiti filmmaker Faisal Al-Duwaisan produced the movie. Together they shot the footage during Ramadan, a few weeks prior to the Olympic games and spent a few weeks editing the film.

I received a call a couple of days before the first private showcase. Balsam asked me if I was willing to translate the movie. With English subtitles, Balsam and Faisal would be able to invite English speakers.

It was my first professional translation. Viewers’ reactions after the first viewing were great, but I (like others) noticed mistakes in punctuation, pacing, and capitalization. Basically, technical glitches that tend to arise after digitally linking subtitles to the screen. Faisal and I decided to proof the film together before the next viewing to prepare it for international film competitions, but we couldn’t find time in our busy schedules to begin.

Yesterday Khaleejesque sponsored a second private viewing of the film at Mefazec hall in Al-Hamra tower. On the morning of the second viewing, Faisal and I finally had a chance to go over the subtitles. The 40 minutes of the documentary took a good 5 hours of proofing! By the time we were done with the final period, Faisal had just enough time to export the film. I had to go home and feed my cats and shower and dress for the event.

It went spectacularly well. I couldn’t be happier with the entire process. I’m a genuine fan of Balsam and all that she has done and continues to do for the country; and Faisal’s craft has only gotten better and better since I’ve seen him last. We were both part of Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyya and the US Embassy’s 9 month Creative Writing Program that was held in 2013.


Another amazing event occured yesterday. We had learned at the start of the movie that Fehaid Al-Deehani (one of the players interviewed in the film) had just qualified. We found out at the end of the showcase that he had won the first Olympic gold medal in the history of Kuwait!

Unfortunately, it won’t count as a Kuwaiti medal since he was participating as an IOP, but the people don’t seem to care very much. We’re all  celebrating Faisal “as a Kuwaiti” player, and his gold medal as an “achievement for Kuwait.”

I’m just happy to be part of a genuine effort to start a public conversation about the state of sports in Kuwait and the welfare of athletes.

4 thoughts on “Between Hope and Pain, a documentary about Kuwait’s Olympic players and Rio 2016

  1. Hi Nada,
    Been a while 🙂 Hope all is well. Is the movie going to be screened at another time, or is it going to be available online anywhere? Thanks.

  2. Hi N!

    Thank you, all is well indeed. I think the movie might be screened again, but it won’t be available online. I’ll update you if I hear about another screening 😀

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