Queenstown Filmmakers Experiences

April 29th, 2015

Queenstown locals Holly and Josh Wallace’s personal perspective on life in an Islamic  state through the lens of journalistic filmmakers was given to a full house covering the age spectrum. They showed their film ‘Milk and Honey’, about the Australian aerobics teacher who became the fully veiled fourth wife of a Qatari Imam and superb photos of their two years based in Qatar.

Holly and Josh Wallace talk April 2015
Holly and Josh Wallace

Among their observations;

  • only 300,000 of Qatar’s 2 million people are Qataris, so there is a massive migrant population, who have fewer rights, less security and less income than Qataris.
  • The Emir, a benevolent dictator, is concentrating on building a knowledge economy – massive medical, science, technology and tertiary institutes, bringing in brain power and top Western Universities to educate young Qataris. But for Qatari women, most then can’t use their education in the work force.
  • The country’s wealth has been built on gas (world’s third-largest reserves) and oil. They are the richest country in the world. They have gone from a country based on pearl divers, date plantations, and nomads breeding camels and horses to this in just 40 years, since the British occupation ended.
  • There is a real tension between the traditional and backward looking Islamic culture and the money drive of their growth economy. While in the traditional Bedouin culture, showing wealth to prove your status relied on how well you fed your wedding guests, now it is driven by how many wives and Lamborghinis you have. Four is the max number of wives.
  • But much of the towering glitz of Qatari cities is a facade. Skyscraping office buildings often empty but lights on full time to look impressive.
  • Qatari women, and also all Muslim women in Qatar, endure similar rules and lifestyle as Victorian England.
  • Employers have total control over the exit permits the mainly male migrants working on Qatari roads and construction require to get out of the country. These are often refused, meaning the poorly paid migrant workers become modern day slaves. Every two days, one worker building the World Cup Stadia dies through an accident…Inshallah.
  • Other memories of expatriate life in Qatar – four wheel driving in the desert, camping on the border of Saudi Arabia, lots of fancy dress parties, no lack of liquor, and lots of soccer where Holly was their secret weapon as Qatari men didn’t know what to do when a woman in shorts and singlet started running towards them!

April update

We have a good range of intellectual and cultural offerings in the Wakatipu over the next two months. We list below events both organised by Catalyst Trust and offered by others in the community – with more details on the upcoming events page. Remember to enrol on our Early Warning System database or like our Facebook page if you want a handy reminder.

Moa Skull - Ancient DNA: Secrets From the Past. Dr Craig Millar, of the Allan Wilson Centre. Wednesday, May 27
Moa Skull – Ancient DNA: Secrets From the Past. Dr Craig Millar, of the Allan Wilson Centre. Wednesday, May 27

CATALYST is all about bringing intellectual stimulation to the Wakatipu – providing locals and visitors with the opportunity for mental as well as adrenal challenge. We collaborate with learning institutes and anyone else who can provide such opportunities to do so. We would love to hear from you if you or your visitors would be happy to share expertise and knowledge about a topic that others might find fascinating, challenging, mind opening… all those good things. Any time you have an idea or opportunity, please go to our Get Involved page and get in touch with us.

Meanwhile, the happenings ahead…

TEDx Queenstown – April 19, Queenstown Memorial Centre, for a day of intriguing and innovative TED talks based on the theme of illumination. Tickets and more information at www.tedxqueenstown.com

Festival of Colour, Wanaka-based but with events in Queenstown and elsewhere in the Upper Clutha, April 21-27. Tickets and more information at www.festivalofcolour.co.nz

Queenstown Filmmakers’ Experiences Living in the Middle East, Monday, April 27, 5:30 p.m, The Rees Queenstown conference room. Free, but please register at connect@catalystnz.org See upcoming events page for this Catalyst Trust event featuring local film makers and journalists Holly and Josh Wallace, who spent two years living in Doha, Qatar – Josh as an Al Jazeera editor and cameraman and Holly as a journalist, women’s rights conference organiser and filmmaker.

Sound and Sense: What Makes a Poem? Catalyst Trust workshop, Queenstown Library 6.30 – 9.00pm Thursday, May 7th 2015, with Hannah Mettner and Jo Morris. Free. Numbers are limited so register to secure your place at connect@catalystnz.org Calling all budding poets and poetry aficionados! This workshop will focus on the joys of reading and writing poetry. See the event page here for more info

Upfront Session #10, Thursday May 21, 7 p.m., Fluid’s Front Room Gallery, Memorial Street.

Ancient DNA: Secrets From the Past. Dr Craig Millar, of the Allan Wilson Centre. Wednesday, May 27, 5:30 p.m. The Rees Queenstown conference room. Free but please register at connect@catalystnz.org This Allan Wilson Centre for Ecology And Evolution talk, hosted by Catalyst Trust, will reveal how ever-advancing DNA research has allowed us to unlock some of the best kept secrets of New Zealand’s past.

Michael Hill International Violin Competition, Queen’s Birthday weekend, Friday 5th to Monday, June 8th. Queenstown Memorial Centre. This weekend celebration of international violinists kicks off with two talks about violins and their makers – are 300 year old violins from Cremona really better than the best modern instruments? – on Friday night, with “insider guides” to the music the world’s top violin competitors will be playing each of the three following mornings. More information at http://www.violincompetition.co.nz/2015-competition/competition-calendar