Emory Report Extra
June 26, 2009

Sneak preview
Watch the trailer of
"Captain Majid."


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June 26, 2009
Movie links Emory, Chad

By Carol Clark

Seen any good Chadian-Arabic films lately? You may have a chance to rent one that was partially filmed at Emory, if Bentley Brown's efforts to get a distribution deal pay off.

Brown, an international studies major who graduated in May, capped off his senior year by completing a feature-length film, "Captain Majid," which won an honorable mention at the Pan-Africa International Film in Montreal last March. 

Brown began work on the film in 2007, after netting $500 in funding – the film's entire budget – from Emory's Center for Health, Culture and Society. "I'm very grateful to all the people who helped with the film. It was really a community effort," he says.

Brown, a native of Dallas, moved to Chad with his family when he was 13. His father worked as a physician in the remote town of Ati, on the edge of the desert, where the people are ethnically Arab.  A local youth named Abbakar befriended Brown, and the two bonded over a shared love of sports and story telling.

Abbakar wrote a script for a drama about a young Chadian who seeks his fortune abroad, only to return home empty-handed. Brown was still in high school when the pair made a movie out of that script, which aired on national TV in Chad.

"After my sophomore year at Emory, we decided to shoot another film," says Brown. Armed with an inexpensive digital movie camera and the $500 budget, he flew to Chad, where Abbakar was waiting with his latest script.

"Captain Majid" is the story of a Chadian youth who is a promising soccer player in his hometown and boasts that one day he will compete at Camp Nou – the celebrated soccer stadium in Barcelona, Spain. But a drug addiction ruins his athletic career while he is still a student. Although he remains in the town, in his addled mind he believes he plays soccer matches at Camp Nou, so he realizes his dream through illusion.

"Even though the movie is fiction, we've had friends who took drugs and had it completely screw up their lives," Brown says.

The cast of 80 worked for free – they are all friends of Brown and Abbakar in Ati, where most of the film was shot. Brown was back at Emory when he realized that he needed some footage of a doctor taking a call from Captain Majid's relatives. He disguised the area outside of the Cox Computing Center as a mental health treatment center and shot the scene there. Brown played one of the patients.

Brown spent months editing the film at Emory's Center for Interactive Teaching. He invited a few people to watch an early edit, including Peter Brown and Kate Winskell, director and assistant director of the Center for Health Culture and Society, and Winskell's husband Dan Enger.  Brown also co-opted his roommate, Paul Liebesney '09C. Although he was a physics major, Liebesney gave valuable advice, says Brown.

Now that he's graduated, Brown is looking for a distributor for "Captain Majid," while also cooking up his next film idea with Abakkar.