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Oscar nominee The Square a hit in Egypt despite never being released there.

Jehane Noujaim accepts award at DGA
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for DGA

The Oscar nominated documentary, The Square, was originally scheduled to make it’s debut in Egypt, where it was filmed, in December of 2013. However, the screening was canceled under the claim that the translation was not completed in time. Many suspect the cancellation was actually because of government intervention. The film, which chronicles the ongoing Egyptian revolution could be seen as a threat to the current military regime that is in power there. The film is required to receive a pass from the Egyptian censorship authority. To this day, it has still not been granted a screening in it’s home country.

According to Noujaim The Square was having difficulties with the authorities before filming even started. Some of her filming equipment, including her camera, was confiscated when she first landed in Cairo. Fortunately, she was able to obtain other equipment from a contact in Tahrir Square, and the movie was made.

Many would say The Square is the front runner in the Best Documentary category at the Oscars this year. It’s tremendous publicity has caught the attention of Egyptians who have reportedly downloaded the film online close to a million times. In many ways the unofficial ban has only added fuel to the film’s fire.

Instead of fighting the internet pirates, the film’s producers have agreed to upload an Arabic language version to be streamed online via Distrify. The film will be available in high resolution starting Feb 14th. In the words of Noujaim herself, “It will be a total f--- you to censorship.”

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The Square is currently available on Netflix instant streaming.

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