Jehane Noujaim intimately examines the recent events of Egypt’s Tahrir Square in this intensely moving documentary. We meet the people who come together from all walks of life in order to achieve true democracy, and we get a glimpse first hand of how difficult change can be. These brave revolutionaries routinely risk torture and death in the square, and despite less than desirable results they never relent. Noujaim weaves together the personal stories of several Egyptians as they fight for their future and their country. The outcome is a film that is heartfelt and powerful.
The documentary begins with the overthrow of the corrupt leader, Hosni Mubarek, in January of 2011 and follows throughout Egypt’s struggle for new leadership that continues today. After Mubarek is removed from power, his army regime takes over. They continue his policies and enforce them using military might and secret police. Free elections are promised but continuously delayed. After another year of struggles and protests the elections are finally held. However, Egyptians are given the unfortunate choice between an old regime crony and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi wins, and precedes to give himself powers even Mubarek didn’t have. Egypt’s government moves from military fascism to religious fascism. The revolutionaries refuse to stand for this however and again take to the square to demand his removal and a fair constitution.
The diverse cast keeps the film moving in an engrossing way. Ahmed is a young Egyptian with unwavering idealism. His charisma as a narrator will make you care deeply about the cause. Khalid Abdallah represents the educated Egyptian upper class. He was the star of the internationally successful film The Kite Runner, and he’s using his fame to bring support for the revolution. Abdallah’s quest is to gather as much footage as possible so he can expose government corruption and topple the regime. Magdy is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The actions of his organization cause him to question his allegiance. At one point he tells his adolescent son to always think for yourself. In spite of their differences these individuals and more come together to protest in Tahrir Square with the single goal of uniting Egypt.
The Square is now playing at The Film Forum in New York City and will be available from Netflix in early 2014.
See a trailer here