Is it possible to conduct a conversation about Egypt nowadays without tackling the revolution? According to secluded Egyptian screenplay writer Mustafa Zikri “The politician is being home-delivered now.”
The surge of artwork and films that peaked right after the revolution, as an immediate reaction to it, was somehow expected from such a youth-driven struggle. Yet the overriding stance from critics and art curators in Egypt was not as excited, unsurprisingly because of the expected immaturity from such a hasty conception process. The other evident reason was the ambiguity of the situation. Undeniably, from January 25th until now, the revelations induced by the frantic pace of events sustain a constant state of distress, rendering the whole situation impossible to fully analyze at the moment, especially since the revolution is nowhere near an end.
On the other hand, international attention towards the Egyptian situation was a double edged sword when it came to films. There is an unprecedented demand for post-revolutionary fiction and documentaries in film festivals, same festivals that had hardly any Egyptian films screened in the past decades. This clutter between consuming films as an informative product and treating them as piece of art added more conflict to the situation.
Images and video footage played such an integral role in the Egyptian revolution; Khaled Said, the young man whose murder by police officers ignited the demonstrations, was targeted originally because of a video he had on his mobile phone exposing a police officer’s involvement in a drug deal. Let alone the thousands of similar clips that surfaced before and during the revolution, commemorating similar crimes and the acts of resistance against them.
For an event as colossal as the Egyptian revolution, it’s inevitable to encounter a level of abuse of the image, be it purposeful or accidental. Image expropriation is definitely fogging the truth about the situation, but that is not enough reason for us to shun all art emerging from it. Instead, maybe it’s time for us - critics and audience alike - to revolutionize our take on how we consume films and react to them.
by Mohamed Beshir