News / Arts & Entertainment

Oscar-Nominated Film 'The Square' Examines Egypt Uprising, Aftermath

Oscar-Nominated Film Examines Egyptian Uprisingi
X
January 24, 2014 6:33 PM
The Egyptian uprising that began on January 25, 2011 and unseated President Hosni Mubarak, a decades-long autocrat, is three years old. Many people have written about it, and filmmakers have chronicled it. Now comes an unusual documentary, "The Square," which takes an intimate view of the events and has been nominated for an Oscar, the first Egyptian film to receive this honor.
Jane FriedmanPenelope Poulou
The Egyptian uprising that unseated President Hosni Mubarak, a decades-long autocrat, is three years old.

An unusual documentary, The Square, takes an intimate view of the events and has been nominated for an Oscar, the first Egyptian film to receive this honor.

The uprising began in January 2011 with a burst of optimism. Thousands of Egyptians of all stripes converged on a central square, demanding the departure of the military-backed ruler.

After 18 days, the unbelievable happened; Mubarak stepped down.

The Square focuses on several characters who guide us through the joy in Tahrir Square and the rollercoaster that followed Mubarak's departure.

Most, like Ahmed, are secular young people who launched the revolution. But there’s also Magdy, a Muslim Brother who joined early on, and Egyptian actor Khalid Abdalla, from the intellectual upper class.

“What we hoped to do, as being one of the only camera teams that stayed in the square from the 18 days all the way through three years, following these characters, was really to try and take audiences on a visceral, emotional experience, giving people a slice of what it was like to live through Tahrir,” said Karim Amer, the film's producer.

An Egyptian general tells the protesters they will be protected. But the army turns on them. The deadliest clashes of 2011 occur in November. Some 40 people are killed.

"It was a war in the square. Not a revolution," Ahmed says in the film. "It was not a revolution."

All while the military is planning parliamentary elections.
 
“I have fear for a future of this country which includes the military and a military that wants to be above the rule of law, above the constitution," says Abdalla, the activist actor, in the documentary.
 
But the military prevails. By June 2012, Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, is elected president and is working with the military, until anti-Morsi protesters fill Tahrir Square again. In July 2013, the army removes Morsi, returning Egypt to military control.

"I think we’re in a dark moment right now but as you see in the film, you cannot measure this revolution by the moment you’re in," said Amer, the film's producer. "This uprising, this revolution, whatever word you want to use, it’s a wave."

The film has not been released in Egypt. But an Oscar would put it in the spotlight.

"For Egyptians, it would be historic," Amer said. "The Oscar would make this film unstoppable in Egypt and the Middle East. It would be a historic event."   
 
Meantime, Netflix is streaming the film for subscribers in the Americas and Europe.  Amer says The Square has a message for all people whose governments are oppressive.

"It’s people being more active and participating in the process, and holding their governments accountable," Amer said. "It’s holding the power structures accountable...and if you talk to Ahmed, he’ll tell you that kind of consciousness, for it  to succeed, it’s not just an Egypt thing. It’s a global thing."

So even if Egypt's revolution is in a dark moment, at least this story will see the light.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

Country-pop singer, Lizzie Sider sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to perform songs from her new album, “Butterfly,” and to talk about her anti-bullying tour.

Blogs

African Music Treasures