Al midan – The Square

The people demand the downfall of the regime” – is the motto of this documentary set deep inside the Egyptian Revolution. The uprising in Egypt was one of the ground-breaking movements of the so called “Arab Spring” (wrongly, I believe). It was a landmark, on so many levels, as people stood up to demand the resignation of a dictator who had spent the last 40 years in power – Hosni Mubarak.

We all know the story – from the occupation of Tahrir square, to the repressive measures taken by the President and, finally, his actual resignation. We have also become too familiar with the roller-coaster it has been since Mubarak was toppled: the Islamic brotherhood, shunned for so many years, saw the opportunity and got one of its own elected President – Mohamed Morsi.

The Brotherhood turned out not to be what it had promised and the shortcomings of the Islamic state model – that we have analysed here, at the J.R. Chronicle – became apparent and the rebellions re-started.

Morsi was toppled by the military and a new government and constitution are on its way, with rising protests on the streets, especially in universities.  But we all know this, it’s in the news. What we do not know are the stories behind the news. That is what Al midan aims to show.

Starting in the roots of the revolution – at Tahrir square – this 2013 Oscar nominated documentary portrays the personal lives of several people and how they intervened, fought, adapted and lived in and through the uprisings. As it is so eloquently mentioned on the film’s own website, “The Square is an immersive experience, transporting the viewer deeply into the intense emotional drama and personal stories behind the news. It is the inspirational story of young people claiming their rights, struggling through multiple forces, in the fight to create a society of conscience”. For that, it won the Audience Award for World Cinema in the documentary category at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and the People’s Choice Award in the documentary category at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival.

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Ahmed Hassan, one of the activists featured in the film. On The Square’s website he is described as “a born storyteller and street revolutionary. He is a key part of the defense of Tahrir in the 18 days leading up to Mubarak’s resignation, and all of the occupations of the square since. His hope is to create a new society of conscience in Egypt”.

It is a story only made possible using the technologies of the XXI century and that can only be told because that technological evolution has occurred. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, combined with smartphones, DSLR and action cameras have speaking up and sharing your thoughts a lot easier. That is what made the revolution in Egypt and that is what made this documentary possible.

From a personal point of view, these are the kind of stories that one can connect to, that are the most telling and, last but not least, the ones that are definitely worth reporting.

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