Last night, on Dec. 18, Worldview Entertainment invited us to join director Jehane Noujaim and producer Karim Amer at a special screening of their documentary "The Square." The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that the film was one of fifteen films in the Documentary Feature category that will advance in the voting process for the 86th Oscars. One hundred forty-seven films had originally qualified in the category.
The documentary followed three young Egyptians, activists in Tahrir Square, during the ongoing Egyptian revolution. Ahmed, Khalid, and Magdy (a member of the Muslim Brotherhood) unite in Tahrir Square. "The Square" begins just days before Mubarak's stepping down and the military takeover. The documentary highlights the use of Facebook, youtube videos, and other media as a means of communication and promoting the cause of the revolutionaries (getting more people to join). Tahrir Square is depicted as a piece of land that belongs to the revolutionaries where Egyptians are Egyptians despite their religion. Throughout the film, the painting of a mural, which literally paints a picture of the events taking place, is intermittently shown. The election of Morsi to office causes further uproar and the movement in the square continues (despite much violence). Although Magdy is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, he and Ahmed and Khalid remain friends. The audience is given a glimpse into the home life of Magdy.
News clips are shown throughout the film (Anderson Cooper, Egyptian news channels, etc.) depicting the ongoings from the outside. Although the documentary ends with Egypt remaining in political strife, Ahmed says that the greatest success of the revolution is that children today play a game called protest. The film ends shortly after Morsi is forced out of office.
Afterwards, the director, Jehane Noujaim, spoke about her film. She said she was arrested three times (Ragia, the legal advocate in the film got her out of jail) and many of their film and cameras were taken throughout the filming (during the documentary, the audience does see members of the army attempting to take the film causing the film to end abruptly). She mentions that Ragia used Twitter to send out a picture of Jehane, so that one of her associates could help to get her out of prison on one occassion. Jehane said they only were able to use regular 5D cameras to take videos. Ahmed often held the camera and he continues to film the revolution in Egypt.
The special screening at Core Club was followed by a cocktail reception. The film's runtime is 104 minutes and will premiere nationwide Jan. 17, 2014.
Christine Cherichella contributed reporting.