THE SQUARE (Al Midan)
a film by Jehane Noujaim
Egypt, USA | 99 min. | documentary | trailer
In English and Arabic with English subtitles
A front-runner for next year’s Best Documentary Oscar, this documentary epic from director Jehane Noujaim (Control Room) has already proven its powerful on audiences at two of the most important North American film festivals, winning the Audience Award at both the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
For more than two years, Egyptians have turned out in massive numbers to occupy Cairo's Tahrir Square and demand change from their leaders. During the many dramatic shifts over that time, director Jehane Noujaim and her crew have captured what's happened in the square through the eyes of several young revolutionaries. They range in background from poor to privileged and secular to religious. Their multiple viewpoints are revelatory whether you've followed these events closely or not at all.
The film plays like an epic with multiple real-life characters, scenes of intense action, and suspense. The passions of people fighting to improve their country are infectious. Among those we meet starting in 2011 are Ahmed, a charismatic example of Egypt's disenfranchised youth; Magdy, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood; and Khalid Abdalla, an accomplished actor (who starred in The Kite Runner) putting his career on hold to document the revolution.
We watch them experience the euphoria of bringing an end to the corrupt thirty-year regime of President Hosni Mubarak. Then we see the shifting of alliances among the power centers of the military, the Muslim Brotherhood and secularist revolutionaries. Each group struggles to gain control of the square amidst tear gas, tanks and live ammunition.
Noujaim’s team continued filming this past summer to capture pivotal moments for her main subjects against the backdrop of protests that led to the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi. What comes next for Egypt remains to be seen. But to gain insight on what's happened so far, The Square is essential viewing. - Thom Powers, reprinted from Toronto International Film Festival program
Jehane Noujaim was raised in Cairo and studied at Harvard. She has directed the documentaries Startup.com (‘01) and Control Room (‘04), and co-directed Storm from the South (06) and Rafea: Solar Mama (‘12). The Square is her latest documentary.
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