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Suicide bomber documentary Dugma: The Button on iTunes in August

14 July 2016

Today Medieoperatørene and Journeyman Pictures announce that they are releasing controversial film Dugma: The Button worldwide on iTunes from Tuesday 2nd August 2016 with a special screening and Q&A with Director Paul Refsdal at Picturehouse Central on 2nd August. With unprecedented access, the film follows four al Qaida suicide bombers waiting to “push the button” and perform a martyr operation.

Director Paul Refsdal has worked in conflict areas for more than 30 years. His last film, Taliban Behind the Masks, was shot behind enemy lines in Afghanistan. This time he has gained unique access to al Qaida in Syria, and has filmed the daily life of one of their groups. Refsdal aims in this film to give viewers an insight into life on "the other side". Also, in sharp contrast to how al Qaida likes to portray themselves, the characters in this film are not just soldiers, but human beings with weaknesses, faults and self-doubt.

Dugma: The Button poster

Dugma: The Button won Best Mid-Length Documentary at HotDocs, won Best Nordic Documentary at Nordic/Docs in Fredrikstad and Best Norwegian Documentary at The Norwegian Short Film Festival and was also Nominated for Best Documentary at the National Film Awards Amanda (Norwegian BAFTA).

In the film, Abu Qaswara al Maki hangs out with friends in his favourite chicken restaurant, talks with his family back in Saudi Arabia and arranges gatherings for local children – meetings that end with singing performances or a banana eating contest for the kid’s fathers.

Back at the frontline, a 26-year-old white British convert from London, Abu Basir al Britani, and his two Syrian companions engage in conversations about Islam, the situation they're in, their own background and the operation they want to make. Sniper bullets repeatedly strike the outside of the building they are sitting in. A constant reminder of the immediacy of the war they are a part of, the three men hardly flinch.

With unprecedented access, this film shows a side of al Qaida soldiers we do not normally see. Against a backdrop of US air raids, their days are mostly filled with mundane tasks like eating, praying, doing the dishes and talking politics with young fighters. Yet they are always waiting for the call to their final mission, and wondering who among them will become the next martyr.

Paul Refsdal, 52, is a freelance journalist who has spent more than three decades covering conflict around the world; he has previously reported from a dozen rebel groups in countries like Sri Lanka, Kosovo, Peru, Chechnya, Afghanistan, etc. Dugma was filmed over the course of two trips to Syria.

Festivals & Awards:

  • Won Best Mid-Length Documentary at HotDocs
  • Best Nordic Documentary at Nordic/Docs in Fredrikstad
  • Best Norwegian Documentary at The Norwegian Short Film Festival
  • Nominated Best Documentary at the National Film Awards Amanda (Norwegian BAFTA)
  • Guth Gafa (Ireland), DokuFest (Kosovo), Nordic Panorama (Malmö, Sweden)