The Wake

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The Wake

Directed by Zahed Bata

  • Qatar 2018; 13 min
  • Original version: Arabic
  • Genre: Mystery, Drama


Very late in the night in a desolate neighborhood, 56-year-old Samaa and her son Sari find themselves in search of a proper burial spot for Samaa's mysterious white box. After attempts to dig into the rocky ground fail, Samaa realizes that the only way to have peace of mind is to set the box and what’s inside it on fire. Upon getting caught by police patrol, the suspicious duo is stopped from starting a fire in the residential area. However, Samaa and Sari finally succeed in finding peace with each other and putting the tragedy behind them.

Director's Statement

THE WAKE is based on a true personal story, but explores themes that are universal: family dynamics, grief and acceptance. The real story involved my mother and I driving out in the dead of night to bury my mother’s companion: her pet parrot. That experience led my mother and I to discussing a taboo subject we hadn't discussed openly before: the death of my father. In the film, the main characters must go on both an external and an interpersonal journey of closure towards an old death of a family member manifested through the act of burying their mysterious white box. They indirectly must deal with this by making the active decision to bury their white box. Lying on opposite ends of a spectrum, both characters must first meet halfway before they set out on this journey together. The film challenges contemporary taboos in the Arab world: death and religious rituals and culture.