Hot Docs 2021: “School of Hope”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There’s nothing much that can be done without an education unless a child is naturally gifted enough to drop out of school and start something big. Those cases are very rare. However, in some places, education is not only inaccessible, but parents themselves don’t mind if their children never go to school.

In a life of a nomad, there are plenty of rules and restrictions regarding what and how things need to be done. But when traditional life takes place in the Oulad Boukais tribe in Morocco, it changes the entire perspective. Beautifully shot, “The School of Hope” brings us closer to the dream of the children in the tribe when they dare to dream about a future outside of the path their parents laid out for them. When a young teacher accepts the tribe’s invitation to join their new self-made school, he had no idea about the obstacles he is about to meet, along with the beauty of a geography that is gorgeous yet limited at the same time.

The film focuses on three students – Mohamed, Miloud and Fatima. Their parents have planned their future without asking them. Miloud does not want to be a shepherd anymore, but his father won’t listen. Fatima is ready to embrace the new school, but her father rejects the idea of having his only daughter studying. Same for Mohamed, who has potential, but will he be able to get an education, so he won’t be needing to lead the lifestyle begun by his family?

“School of Hope”, by director Mohamed El Aboudi, is a hopeful documentary that portrays the need for education, the importance of gaining knowledge and adapting that knowledge in real life. The Oulad Boukais tribe, as you know, is not the only one that has issues with the education of their children. It’s the people still stuck in the past, where the tradition of gender roles is more preferred. However, not everything looks dark and ordinary. It has an interesting and positive aura that makes the audience fall in love with every student and admire their effort to do the impossible – staying focused at school even when home demands other things prioritized. But not letting go of education because they realize the value of the life-changing opportunity the tribe can benefit from.

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